Since 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has reportedly scaled back federal inspections of bean and grain wholesalers. Now, workers in Pennsylvania may want to be aware that groups within the agriculture industry may soon ask agency officials to consider ending additional programs at the regional level. This news comes as study results show that grain silos have been and may continue to be dangerous places to work.
The year 2016 saw the highest number of entrapment incidents recorded in six years. According to Purdue University’s annual survey concerning grain-handling accidents, 29 entrapment incidents were reported in which 18 people died. This indicates a rise of about 21 percent over the number of incidents that were reported during the previous year. Study results also indicate that an additional 22 lives were lost during this period of time due to entanglement with machinery, falls, asphyxiation and other grain-related accidents.
The occurrence of entrapment incidents may be underreported. According to one Purdue agriculture safety professor, there is no mandatory reporting requirement in place, and some job sites are exempt from OSHA oversight.
Many incidents may appear to begin innocuously. During grain storage and processing operations, the grain could stop flowing smoothly and a worker may enter a silo in order to knock it loose. An accident might occur if the worker breaks through the surface or is engulfed by falling grain. Under such circumstances, a fatality could result.
As of early 2017, regional emphasis programs targeting grain storage and processing operations remain in place. In the event that Pennsylvania residents experience workplace injuries in spite of continuing OSHA efforts, they or their surviving family members may want to seek legal counsel whose practice is focused in the area of workers’ compensation law. Dependent upon the facts of each case, the attorney could work to ensure that each party who suffers loss a is fairly compensated.