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OSHA reminds grain handlers of potential workers' injuries

The number of workplace accidents that occur at grain-handling facilities in Missouri is a matter of concern for authorities, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. A spokesperson for the agency refers to these fatalities as incidents and not accidents. He says grain-bin deaths or injuries can be prevented, and because an accident is something that is unavoidable, these instances do not qualify as accidents.

It is said that, of all workers who were overwhelmed by grain, more than 50 percent suffocated within 60 seconds. OSHA reports that two deaths and four other incidents that were preventable have occurred in neighboring states so far this year. The agency says it is currently involved in six investigations into fatalities and other incidents related to grain handling. One of these cases arose from the death of a 42-year-old man who was killed by a working auger in a grain bin. Another 53-year-old worker succumbed to injuries that were caused when he was overwhelmed by a collapsed wall of corn.

OSHA says many employers do not recognize the importance of testing the atmosphere in grain bins to avoid sending workers into conditions where a lack of oxygen or the presence of other chemicals can claim their lives. Employees must also be made aware of the risks involved when entering grain bins. These include the hazards posed by engulfment, suffocation and working augers.

Missouri families who have lost loved ones who suffered fatal workplace injuries at grain-handling facilities may seek financial assistance to help with the high costs of end-of-life arrangements and the unanticipated loss of income. Death benefits to cover these losses can be filed with the workers' compensation insurance program. Some families choose to retain the services of an experienced workers' comp attorney to pursue compensation on their loved one's behalves to allow them to focus on mourning their losses instead of on financial burdens.

Source: ozarksfirst.com, "OSHA Watching Missouri's Grain-Handling During Harvest", Jason Taylor, Oct. 14, 2016

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