Two young workers (ages 14 and 19) were killed at a grain storage facility in the Midwest when they were sent into a grain bin to “walk down the corn.” The grain bin was being emptied, and the workers’ task was to break up clumps by walking on them to make the corn flow out of the bin. The workers were not provided safety harnesses, and the machinery used for evacuating the grain was running. The suction created by the flowing grain pulled them in like quicksand and suffocated them. Workers should never be inside a grain bin when it is being emptied out, because a sinkhole can form and pull down the worker in a matter of seconds. OSHA standards prohibit this dangerous practice. This company ignored that rule as well as other protective safety requirements. In addition, child labor laws made it illegal for this company to employ a 14-year-old to work in a grain silo.
To prevent this, employers must:
Turn off, disconnect and lock out all powered equipment associated with the bin that poses a danger to employees inside the grain structure, including augers used to help move the grain, so that the grain is not being emptied or moving out or into the bin [1910.272(g)(1)(ii)].
Standing on moving grain is deadly; the grain can act like quicksand and bury a worker very quickly. Moving grain out of a bin creates a suction that can swiftly pull and bury any workers who are in the bin.
Prohibit walking down grain and similar practices where an employee walks on grain to make it flow [1910.272(g)(1)(iv)].
Provide each worker entering a bin from a level at or above stored grain, or when a worker will walk or stand on stored grain, with a body harness. The body harness should have a lifeline that is positioned and is of sufficient length to prevent a worker from sinking further than waist-deep in grain [1910.272(g)(2)].
Provide an observer stationed outside the bin or silo being entered by an employee and maintain communication between the observer and the employee who enters. Ensure the observer is equipped to provide assistance [1910.272(g)(3)].
Prohibit workers from entry into bins or silos underneath a bridging condition, or where a build-up of grain products on the sides could fall and bury them [1910.272(g)(6)].
Provide training about engulfment and mechanical hazards to employees assigned special tasks such as bin entry [1910.272(e)(2)].
Test the air within a bin or silo prior to entry for the presence of combustible and toxic gases, and to determine if there is sufficient oxygen [1910.272(g)(1)(iii)].
Provide and continue ventilation until any unsafe atmospheric conditions are eliminated. If toxicity or oxygen deficiency cannot be eliminated, workers must wear appropriate respirators [1910.272(g)(1)(iii) A and B].
Ensure a permit is issued for each instance a worker enters a bin or silo, certifying that the precautions listed above have been implemented [1910.272(g)(1)(i)].
Presented to you by Lookout Team