At a recent National Safety Congress in a neighboring state, investigators of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration discussed some of their unusual and interesting cases. Grain workers in Ohio may be interested in learning about an unexpected fatality when a worker developed an allergy to wheat dust. Reportedly, this happened soon after a company in the malting industry introduced barley and wheat into their manufacturing process, and a workers’ compensation death benefits claim likely followed his death.
The determination of OSHA inspectors after the investigation was that the company failed to do a hazard assessment at the time of introducing the new product that, being a grain, should have been identified as posing a dust risk. In fact, the company had no program in place to address grain dust hazards other than yearly respiratory clearance tests. Although the deceased worker went through those examinations, his asthmatic tendencies were not identified.
Reportedly, the worker suffered an asthma attack shortly after wheat was introduced into his workplace. That incident was successfully treated at work, but no further medical evaluation took place. When he suffered another attack four months later, It was severe enough to cause his death. OSHA said the worker’s development of sensitivity to wheat dust should have alerted the company to the need for special safety protocols that included respiratory protection for exposed workers.
Losing a loved one in a work-related incident is naturally traumatic for any family. Grain processing facilities pose multiple life-threatening hazards, and families who have to cope with the unanticipated financial consequences of such tragedies may find comfort in knowing that the Ohio workers’ compensation insurance program aims to provide survivors’ benefits to ease the burden. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help with navigation of a claim for compensation to cover a funeral and burial along with a financial package to make up for the sudden loss of income.
Source: ehstoday.com, “Wheat Dust Allergy Leads to Worker Death“, Stefanie Valentic, Oct. 2, 2017