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Region 8 News Release: OSHA2.34
Monday, Aug. 12, 2002
Contact: Rich Kulczewski
LYNCHBURG, ND -- Safety and health hazards at a North Dakota grain elevator that contributed to the suffocation death of an employee have resulted in $115,450 in proposed penalties issued this week against the Chaffee Lynchburg Farmer's Elevator headquartered in Lynchburg, N.D.
The Occupational Safety and Heath Administration's Bismarck area office issued four willful and four serious citations following an inspection of a storage bin entry fatality at Chaffee Lynchburg's Leonard, N.D. facility on Feb. 7, 2002
The citations resulted because the employer failed to require employees to follow basic storage bin entry precautions when routinely entering grain storage bins, according to Bruce Beelman, OSHA Bismarck area director.
An employee of the company entered a corn storage bin to increase the flow of grain being moved by an auger conveyor located beneath the bin. The worker, who became trapped in flowing grain that was approximately ten feet deep, suffocated after being drawn into the auger conveyor.
The four alleged willful violations address the company's failure to: issue a permit for entering the bin; test the atmosphere; lock out power to equipment; prohibit the practice of "walking the grain" without protection; and provide for an observer and rescue equipment when employees enter bins, silos or tanks.
The four alleged serious violations address their failure to: provide fall protection for working on top of rail cars; guarding machinery; training employees acting as observers for bin entry; and limiting the accumulation of grain dust in the facility.
Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and its regulations. A serious violation is one where there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
Beelman noted that recent studies estimate that approximately15 fatalities related to grain bin storage entry occur annually in the country.
Chaffee Lynchburg Farmer's Elevator has 15 working days from the receipt of the citations to request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review commission.
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