Every year during the grain harvesting season workers in Colorado and neighboring states are exposed to elevated levels of safety hazards at grain and animal feed facilities. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes a list of precautionary regulations particularly for the handling of this type of produce. However, at this time of the year, the pressure of the workload sometimes leads to employers failing to enforce safety rules, often resulting in employees being injured at work.
The federal safety agency recently issued an animal feed company in a neighboring state with 26 citations for safety violations of which 25 were classified as serious. These included the failure to comply with all regulations related to confined spaces, and neglecting to ensure atmospheric conditions are tested before workers enter grain bins. Accumulated grain dust poses an explosion risk, and this company failed to avoid such accumulations. Preventative maintenance on equipment was neglected, and machines lacked safety guards and lockout/tagout devices. Although hazardous chemicals were used at the facility, no hazard communication program was established.
Investigators found that workers were not informed of the hazards they faced, nor were they trained to identify dangerous conditions and how to protect themselves from harm. OSHA said compliance with its grain handling guidelines and safety procedures could prevent injuries to grain workers. However, two workers in Nebraska have already lost their lives in grain handling accidents so far this year, and the number of injuries that occur at these facilities is also unacceptable.
Employees of grain handling facilities who are injured at work — or families who have had to cope with the loss of loved ones in workplace accidents — may pursue financial relief through the Colorado workers’ compensation insurance system. Injury benefits or death benefits claims may be filed with the program for compensation of medical costs and/or end-of-life expenses. Wage replacement packages that are based on a percentage of the weekly wage of the victim will also form part of the benefits.
Source: powderbulksolids.com, “OSHA Fines Animal Feed Site $101K for Grain Dust Explosion Risk, Other Hazards“, Oct. 27, 2016