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Three workers killed in grain elevator incidents, OSHA steps in

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, recently issued a national news release concerning safety standards for grain elevators. Since 2009, OSHA has issued citations for several grain elevator operators, including some in the state of Colorado, after several accidents.

According to OSHA, these types of workplace injuries are preventable if grain operators are following the national safety standards. The news release was issued after two fatal accidents that left three workers crushed and suffocated by grain.

The first accident occurred when three workers, one of whom was under the age of 18, were in a grain elevator when the equipment was running. All three became trapped in nearly 30 feet of corn; two, including the underage worker, were killed and the third was seriously injured. The second incident occurred when a worker was trapped in giant corn storage bin. He was killed also.

OSHA has issued multiple citations to both companies that employed the workers. The fines combined will cost the companies over a million dollars. The specifics of the citations are not included in the release, but past violations have included failure to cover hazardous equipment and inadequate employee training.

As stated before, OSHA is committed to ensuring that employers are providing a work environment that follows national safety standards and procedures. OSHA is working to enforce Grain Handling Facilities standards to prevent future injuries and fatalities among grain workers. Specifically, OSHA has reminded grain elevator operators that workers must be properly trained and equipped before entering facilities.

Last year, there were at least 25 reports of workers who died as a result of getting trapped in grain.

Source: OSHA News Release online, "US Labor Department cites 2 Illinois grain elevator operators for willful safety, child labor violations following deaths of 3 workers, including 2 teens," 24 January 2011

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