Sunday, March 31, 2013

Grain Bin Safety

NPR did a nice series of stories on deaths in grain bins this week:
We continue our series now on a dangerous and illegal practice that kills, on average, 16 people in the U.S. each year. It's called Walking Down the Grain. Employers at farms and grain elevators send untrained and ill-equipped workers into bins to break up wet or clustered grain. In the last four decades, more than 660 people (emphasis mine) have died because of the quicksand effect of grain.
The stories included an in-depth description of one accident which killed 2 teenagers in Illinois in 2010, a story on how OSHA fines were routinely lowered from what they could have been, and the story above, on available safety equipment to prevent such deaths.  This tidbit blew me away:
The condition of the grain is also a factor. Three years ago, a record corn crop was harvested all across the Midwest. It was wet and it clogged up in bins. Workers were sent in to walk down the grain, or unclog it, which is also against the law. Twenty-six people died, a record year for grain entrapment. This corn is in great condition. It's really dry. It's no clumping at all on the sides or in the center.
26 people?  I realize that in a country of 300 million people, 26 is few enough to be nothing.  But this is entirely preventable.  It doesn't seem possible that employers haven't been charged with crimes in these accidents.  I don't really want people to go to jail, but I also don't want the neighbor kid to die because an elevator manager was stupid.  Then again, a number of those deaths are probably farmers in grain bins at home who just got in a hurry, and didn't actually have the safety equipment, and just figured that as long as he was careful he'd be fine.  But, it appears it is often kids who end up dying:
Rigsby is one of eight teens ages 17 and younger who were killed at OSHA-regulated grain facilities since 1987, according to the records analyzed by NPR and CPI. Another 15 victims were 18 to 20 years old.
The teen death rate is much higher when incidents at farms are included. Farms are generally exempt from OSHA regulation. More than 220 teens 18 and younger have died in grain incidents since 1964, says Field, the Purdue professor.
That is ridiculous.

NPR also did a fabulous series on Social Security Disability, too.  It is definitely worth listening to or reading about.  Note to cable news: This is what a news network looks like.

1 comment:

  1. I have been wanting to find some grain bins in Ohio. This will be great for when I get some. Now I know what to do.