Violation of Safety Rules Leads to More Grain Bin Worker Suffocations

by Jose G. “Joey” Gonzalez, Jr. on 04/15/2013

Grain storage activity across the country has skyrocketed, necessitating the hiring of additional workers to maintain these bins.  Unfortunately, many employers across the country are openly flouting safety rules, leading to a number of grain bin suffocation deaths being reported from around the country.

The Center for Public Integrity is reporting on a number of recent worker deaths that involve teenage workers who were suffocated or buried alive in a grain bin in Illinois.  The workers were not informed about the dangers of these jobs, nor provided basic protection gear like personal harnesses that would've prevented them from being buried alive in the bins.

According to an analysis of data from the Occupational Safety And Health Administration by the Center for Public Integrity in association with NPR, there have been 179 grain bin suffocation or entrapment fatalities at commercial grain storage sites across the United States since 1984 alone.

Texas work injury lawyers find that the pitifully low federal fines for such violations have only emboldened employers.  For instance, according to the report, the initial fine imposed by the federal agency on employers for violations in such cases was $9.2 million.  However, those fines were reduced by almost 60% to $3.8 million.  The 5 largest fines imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for violations that resulted in such grain bin entrapment fatalities were cut by between 50% to 99%.

Since 2001 alone, there have been 19 fatal as well as nonfatal drain entrapment incidents that were seen as serious enough for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to get involved and issue citations.  Eight of these cases were referred to federal prosecutors.   However, only 3 of these cases resulted in charges.

While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been very successful in reducing the number of workplace accident deaths, it has failed to monitor the vulnerable workers placed at risk of everyday in these grain storage facilities.


Tags: Workplace Injury, OSHA

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