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Workplace safety: OSHA warns workers about grain crusting

The majority of deaths that occur in grain storage bins are caused by suffocation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says grain hazards in Missouri and elsewhere are similar to those posed by quicksand, and when grain overcomes a worker, he or she can suffer a sudden death. Compliance with prescribed workplace safety regulations can save lives.

Authorities warned both employers and employees at grain facilities to keep a lookout for crusting and know the dangers it poses. This typically happens in winter and occurs when there is insufficient aeration in the bin. The grain forms a thick crust that can be dangerously misleading. The crust can be positioned high up in the bin, creating the impression that the bin is full while the actual grain level can be much lower.

If a worker enters the bin, standing on the crust can cause it to disintegrate, and the employee can fall to the actual grain level. The broken-up crust will cover the worker within seconds and cut off oxygen access, causing suffocation. Entering a grain bin is extremely dangerous. A worker may be under the impression that the surface is firm and land in a life-threatening situation in the blink of an eye.

Missouri workers are entitled to safe workplace environments, and their employers must comply with OSHA regulations to ensure workplace safety -- regardless of the industry. While the workers' compensation insurance system exists to provide financial assistance in the event of workplace accidents that cause injuries or death, the ideal situation would be for all workers to be safe. However, that may be wishful thinking, and the services of experienced workers' compensation lawyer are available to assist injured workers and families who lost loved ones in workplace accidents with the claims process.

Source: agweb.com, "10 Life-Saving Grain Entrapment Tips", Sonja Begemann, Accessed on Jan. 13, 2017

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