OSHA program aims to reduce farm-related deaths

According to statistics compiled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the agriculture industry has the highest fatality rates of any industry in the country. A portion of these deaths occur as a result of grain elevator incidents, including grain engulfment, auger entanglement, falls, electrocution, and explosions caused by combustible dust.

OSHA and farm safety groups are particularly concerned with incidents of grain engulfment, which occurs when a worker is in a grain storage silo when grain is being pumped in. In less than five seconds, the worker will be unable to move and, in less than 60 seconds, the worker will be completely buried in grain. In more than 50 percent of grain engulfment cases, the victim dies from suffocation. The remaining cases can result in serious injury, including brain injuries, due to trauma or lack of oxygen.

In 2010, grain engulfment accidents resulted in the death of 26 workers. In response, OSHA has sent warning letters to more than 13,000 grain elevator companies and has began an educational program aimed at educating the industry and its workers on the dangers of grain elevator accidents. The agency has also increased its enforcement and compliance assistance activities.

While OSHA's efforts have had a positive effect on the farming industry, there continue to be multiple deaths each year due to grain elevator incidents and other farming accidents. Companies often fail to take proper safety precautions to prevent work-related tragedies. A personal injury attorney may be able to help injured workers and their families understand the options available if someone is injured in an on the job accident, and may be able to determine eligibility for compensation.

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