The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Growmark, which operates Frontier FS, a grain handling facility in Ixonia, WI, with five safety violations, including one willful violation for failing to de-energize and lock out sweep augers before workers entered grain bins.
OSHA initiated an investigation in August under its local emphasis program for grain handling facilities.
Proposed fines total $84,000.
"Failing to de-energize and lock out sweep augers puts workers entering grain bins at an unnecessary risk for amputation injuries, engulfment and suffocation," said Kim Stille, OSHA's area director in Madison.
"In order to educate the industry, OSHA has conducted extensive outreach on the hazards associated with grain bins.
"But ultimately it is the employer's responsibility to recognize the hazards that exist and take the necessary precautions to protect workers' safety and health."
In addition to the willful violation, two serious violations involve failing to provide body harnesses or alternative protection as well as rescue equipment for work inside grain bins where engulfment hazards are present.
Two other-than-serious violations involve failing to complete a certification for a personal protective equipment hazard assessment and to identify tag out devices used for servicing and maintenance activities.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
A serious violation occurs when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
Growmark is a cooperative agricultural organization based in Bloomington, Ill., with operations spanning 30 states and Ontario, Canada.
The company has been inspected by OSHA more than 50 times since 1980 and has received more than 100 citations.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.