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July 8, 2013

New OSHA Grain Worker Safety Initiative

OSHA has developed a new Local Emphasis Program for Grain Handling Facilities in response to the high number of recent grain handling deaths. In 2010, 51 workers were engulfed by grain stored in bins, and 26 died - the highest number on record. It takes just 5 seconds for a worker to become engulfed in flowing grain, and 60 seconds to submerge. More than half of grain engulfments result in suffocation deaths.

STOP sign grain worker safety posterOSHA is now working directly with grain and agricultural groups to educate employers and workers about the unique hazards of grain handling, and to find ways to prevent deaths and injuries. OSHA also developed a Local Emphasis Program for Grain Handling Facilities focusing on the grain and feed industry's six major hazards: engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, "struck by," combustible dust explosions and electrocution hazards.

"This alliance is an opportunity for OSHA to work together with the grain and agricultural industries and the agricultural community to train employers and workers about the unique hazards of the grain and feed industry," said Nick Walters, OSHA Regional Administrator for six Midwestern states. "Through training, decals, brochures, websites, and other means of information communication, we will continue to work to improve awareness of these hazards and the safety and health of workers on farms and in grain handling facilities. We are committed to preventing the injuries and deaths that have been too frequent in the industry in recent years."

OSHA and state grain and feed associations developed a stop sign decal for grain bin doors to remind entrants to protect themselves from potential hazards.

The Grain Handling Safety Coalition (GHSC) provides training materials to train farmers, commercial grain handling employees, youth and rescue workers. There are five different safety topics available including an overview of grain handling and storage safety, grain bin entry as well as entanglement, fall and confined space hazards. GHSC also offers "Train the Trainer" courses for companies and communities to have a local resource for training.

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