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Workplace safety not to be ignored during grain harvesting season

This is the time of the year for harvesting, and grain bin safety is on the minds of many in Missouri and other states. The 2010 deaths of two teenagers, ages 14 and 19, when they were trapped in a grain bin in a neighboring state serves as a constant reminder of the potential dangers workers are exposed to in these circumstances. One survivor of that incident strives to create awareness of the importance of workplace safety in grain handling.

The rescue attempt on that day took 14 hours, and there were 260 responders trying to save the lives of the two workers. Sadly, these efforts were all in vain, and two families had to cope with the deaths of their loved ones. The Grain Handling Safety Coalition was subsequently established, and members say that time is of the essence during the fast-paced harvesting time. They urge workers to spend an extra couple of minutes to put safety first and only go into a bin when it is absolutely necessary. If they have to go in, they must first make sure all unloading equipment is turned off.

Despite the campaign for workplace safety involving grain bins, it is alarming that incidents continue to happen. It is reported that 33 grain engulfments occurred nationwide in 2013, and 38 more occurred last year. Those resulted in 13 deaths in 2013 and 17 in 2014. The coalition says as equipment changes over the years, so must safety measures. Constant assessment and evaluation of hazards is required, and improved safety measures must be developed.

Missouri companies are urged to ensure workplace safety, even if they are pressured by the fast pace of the harvesting season. Families who have lost loved ones in workplace accidents may pursue workers' compensation death benefits. While no amount of money can fill the void left by such a sad loss, these state-regulated insurance benefits can ease the financial burden. The compensation typically includes coverage for funeral and burial expenses and a financial package for covered dependents based on the deceased worker's level of income.

Source: missourifarmertoday.com, "Grain bin safety a concern as farmers ready for harvest", Phyllis Coulter, Aug. 13, 2015

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