Oct 22, 2021

Illinois Co-op Faces Fines for Putting Workers at Risk

Topflight Grain Cooperative in Monticello received multiple safety citations from OSHA

source: Law Firm Newswire

An Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation found that a central Illinois grain cooperative allegedly exposed employees to engulfment hazards.

The cooperative was accused of violating grain-handling safety standards.

Topflight Grain Cooperative Inc. in Monticello received multiple safety citations from OSHA, including three willful, one serious and one other-than-serious.

The federal agency issued the citations in connection with a February 19, 2021 incident.

Two workers were clearing crops and debris from a bin when soybeans collapsed and surrounded one of them up to the waist. The cooperative is facing $303,510 in proposed fines.

The cooperative was accused of permitting workers to enter the grain bin when there were 10 to 15 feet of grain buildup on the sides.

They were not required to lockout or de-energize hazardous equipment before entering the bin.

Management also failed to post someone outside the bin in case of emergencies.

The cooperative was issued a serious citation from OSHA for instructing employees to work on top of railcars without adequate fall protection.

The other-than-serious citation was for failure to measure oxygen levels in a grain bin before workers entered it.

OSHA Peoria Area Director Barry Salerno highlighted the importance of employers following industry-recognized standards to keep workers safe.

He described the grain engulfment incident at the cooperative as “entirely avoidable.”

Topflight Grain Cooperative Inc. runs 15 facilities across seven central Illinois counties that process more than 40 million grain bushels each year.

The employer had 15 days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply with OSHA standards, ask for an informal conference with the agency’s area director or challenge the findings before an independent review commission.

Topflight General Manager Derrick Bruhn released a statement saying the cooperative intended to discuss the citations with OSHA during an informal conference.

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