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Co-op Faces Fines for Engulfment Risks

OSHA: East Central Iowa Cooperative failed to properly train employees or provide safety harnesses

According to a citation from Iowa OSHA, East Central Iowa Cooperative, which had one of its employees die from a grain engulfment incident in summer 2017, has eight violations and faces a $125,000 fine.

After a recent inspection, East Central Iowa Cooperative had several safety regulation violations including:

  • The employer did not establish lockout specific procedures for this location. Employees are exposed to various pieces of equipment such as, but not limited to, drag conveyors, elevators, blowers, augers and various other pieces of equipment being used in grain handling operations.
  • The employer did not implement procedures in the grain handling facility for the use of tags and locks which would prevent the inadvertent application of energy or motion to equipment being repaired, serviced, or adjusted, which could result in employee injury.

Several violations contributed to last summer's fatality when an employee became engulfed in the flowing grain:

  • The employer did not properly train employees on the proper procedures for acceptable entry conditions to be taken to eliminate and or isolate possible hazards prior to making grain bin entry. It was noted that employees made entry into a grain bin without full body harnesses, attached retrieval lines and an attendant. There was an open sump above an operating drag conveyor in this bin which contained approximately 21,000 bushels of soybeans. There was a buildup of grain 10 to 12 feet in depth around portions of the interior edge of the bin. Employees were attempting to cause the buildup of grain to flow toward the open sump.
  • The employer did not ensure the sump door was closed and drag conveyor was deenergized and locked out prior to making entry inside the grain bin.
  • The employer did not ensure whenever an employee enters a grain storage structure from a level at or above the level of the stored grain or grain products, or whenever an employee walks or stands on or in stored grain of a depth which poses an engulfment hazard, the employer shall equip the employee with a body harness with lifeline, or a boatswain's chair that meets the requirements of subpart D of this part. The lifeline shall be so positioned, and of sufficient length, to prevent the employee from sinking further than waist-deep in the grain.
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