Enforcement and Inspection

Employer Faces Hefty Fines for Grain Bin Entrapment

A Nebraska grain-handling cooperative has been cited by OSHA for failing to protect workers from grain bin entrapment and engulfment hazards. The business faces proposed penalties of $373,911.

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In May, OSHA responded to reports of a worker partially entrapped in a grain bin. Investigators found the man had entered the bin to clear clumps of soybeans while the auger was running.

As the clumped beans cleared, the grain shifted and knocked the worker over. The auger drew the beans to the bottom of the bin, engulfing the worker up to his chest. OSHA cited the cooperative for two willful, one repeat, and four serious violations of the agency’s grain-handling standards. As a result, the company was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The cooperative had been previously cited for a similar violation at another location.

Avoid Grain Bin Accidents by Following the Rules

When employees must enter storage bins, employers are required by OSHA to do the following:

  • De-energize (turn off) and disconnect, lock out and tag, or block off all mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, and pneumatic equipment that presents a danger, particularly grain-moving equipment. Grain must not be emptied or moved into or out of the bin while workers are inside.
  • Prohibit “walking down” grain and similar practices.
  • Prohibit entry onto or below a bridging condition, or where grain is built up on the sides of the bin.
  • Provide workers with a lifeline or boatswain’s chair and proper rescue equipment.
  • Station an observer equipped to assist outside the bin.
  • Ensure that communications are maintained between the observer and those inside the bin
  • Test the air for the presence of hazardous gases before entry.
  • Issue a permit each time a worker enters a bin.
  • Provide workers with rescue equipment.