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Workers’ on-the-job injuries: Focus on Ohio’s grain bins

One realm that often seems to be de-emphasized when it comes to talk of workplace accidents and employees’ on-the-job injuries is the agricultural industry.

Understandably, stories that center upon workers’ falls, electrical and burn injuries, scaffolding accidents, excavation-related injuries and related harms often surface in the construction industry. Likewise, worker injuries that occur in the mining and maritime industries generally command considerable media attention, as do safety-related stories focused on enterprises where chemicals are centrally involved.

In Stark County, though, and in Ohio generally, federal safety authorities have recently been stressing an altogether different workplace environment where the potential for serious injuries and fatal accidents spells a constant threat.

Namely, that is the rather pedestrian grain bin, which collectively numbers in the thousands as it dots the landscape throughout Ohio’s rural and farming areas.

Officials from OSHA state that 26 workers died in grain bin accidents nationally in 2010. Two Ohio workers have already died this year in what are termed “grain engulfment” accidents.

For the employers that it can reach and regulate, OSHA has greatly increased its oversight and safety focus on bins, having issued a battery of new rules that apply in and near grain bins.

That emphasis is driven by concern for the multi-pronged dangers that exist for workers engaged inside bins. In addition to becoming submerged and suffocating under an avalanche of grain, workers have also been injured or killed by becoming tangled in bin equipment, especially augers that sweep grain in efforts to loosen it.

Electrocution and combustible dust explosions have also been contributing factors in workers’ injuries.

Source: Canton Repository, “Farm safety under scrutiny,” Edd Pritchard, Aug. 5, 2013