Recently, OSHA put grain handling operators “on notice” that it intends to “aggressively pursue” workplace safety violations in the grain handling and storage industries.
On Aug. 4, 2010, OSHA Administrator David Michaels sent a letter to more than 3,000 grain handling and storage operators warning them that OSHA “will not tolerate” noncompliance with workplace safety standards. A copy of this letter is available at http://www.osha.gov/asst-sec/Grain_letter.html. In a related press conference, Michaels claimed to be “appalled” at the “outrageously reckless behavior” of some grain storage operators, particularly with respect to allowing workers to enter grain storage facilities without proper equipment, storage and training.
Evidently, this warning was precipitated by the recent suffocation deaths of two teenagers in a grain bin in Illinois. These deaths came on the heels of a series of similar accidents, each of which resulted in a large penalty citation from OSHA:
- In November 2009, OSHA fined a Colorado grain elevator more than $1.5 million following the death of a teenage worker engulfed by grain;
- In May 2010, OSHA fined a South Dakota wheat cooperative more than $1.6 million following the death of a worker engulfed by grain; and