When many people think about dangerous jobs, they may not think of the people who work inside of grain silos. Tragically, however, these grain storage bins can be some of the deadliest “offices” in Colorado or across the United States. What is even worse, however, is that many of the 80 employees who have died in silo accidents since 2007 were teenage boys. A leading expert on grain storage accidents has documented over 800 critical silo accidents since 1970, but he also believes that the actual number of accidents might be much greater, as many entrapments are not reported.
What is particularly shocking about these accidents is that they are completely preventable and the steps that must be taken to prevent them are relatively inexpensive. First, someone outside of the bin should be watching the individual inside of the bin at all times. The farm worker who is inside should be secured to a safety harness and pulley attached to the top of the silo. Moreover, there must not be any power equipment on at the time of the accident, specifically the machines at the bottom of the silo that help to move and cascade the grain. Finally, workers should be trained on how to avoid dangerous situations, such as entering a bin when there is a cap of grain that is crusted overhead.
Though the federal Department of Labor made moves to regulate silos and conditions affecting many farm workers’ safety, there was tremendous pushback that ultimately led to the regulations being scrapped. Whether someone is in favor of regulation or not, it is still important for any employer to provide the proper safety equipment and training necessary to keep its employees safe.
Unfortunately, the number of silo accidents has remained relatively constant during the past decade. Though there had been a slight increase in deaths until it reached its peak in 2010, it has only recently started to decline.
Source: The New York Times, “,” John M. Broder, Oct. 28, 2012
If you are interested in learning more about silo accidents and the devastating effects they can have on workers and family members, see the link above. But if you want to learn about what we have done on behalf of those who have been injured on the job, please visit our Denver no-fault work injury page.