The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued a new hazard alert that discusses the risks of working in grain storage bins. The alert warns that workers in the grain handling industry are at risk for being exposed to life-threatening hazards, such as suffocation from engulfment and entrapment, fires and explosions from the buildup of grain dust, crushing injuries and amputations from grain handling equipment, and fall risks.
The release cites a report issued by Purdue University that found that 51 workers were engulfed by grain stored in bins in 2010, resulting in 26 deaths, the highest number recorded for one year.
"Suffocation from engulfment is the leading cause of death in grain bins and the number of tragedies continues to climb," Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels said in a release. "They can be avoided if owners and operators use well-known safety measures that are proven to prevent workers from being killed or seriously injured."
The alert provides measures that aim to save grain handlers' lives, including specific training for all workers and a fall protection system such as a body harness and lifeline, or a boatswain's chair that can be used to pull a worker from a storage bin.