Once inside a grain storage bin, a worker can find themselves engulfed or trapped by flowing grain in just seconds. In 2021, 38% of reported grain engulfments turned deadly because required safeguards were not followed.
Concerted efforts by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, state workplace safety officials and industry stakeholders helped to reduce the rate of fatal engulfments by 17 percent from 2020 to 2021.
These efforts continue in 2023 as an OSHA Cooperative Alliance Program with the Grain Handling Safety Coalition, Grain Elevator and Processing Society and National Grain and Feed Associationbegins its annual Stand Up 4 Grain Safety Week today. It ends on March 31.
Begun in 2016, this annual event addresses grain industry hazards and ways to reduce risks and improve safety and health management systems to help prevent life-altering injuries and fatalities.
“No one should die in a grain engulfment. With proper controls and training, these are preventable incidents. Stand Up 4 Grain Safety Week will again focus on preventing grain engulfments by raising awareness on how employers can eliminate the dangerous hazards involved in grain storage operations,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker.
“The alliance’s efforts have helped reduce injuries and deaths in this high-hazard industry, but more must be done to create a culture throughout the industry that makes safety a regular part of doing business.”
The Stand Up 4 Grain Safety Week will include a daily series of interactive online learning sessions featuring experts with information about related OSHA regulations and an open discussion forum. Hosted at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. EDT each day by the Grain Handling Safety Coalition, sessions will cover topics including powered industrial trucks, preventative maintenance, emerging health issues in agriculture, heat/cold and extreme weather safety, anhydrous ammonia, and fumigation.
Recognizing that the fatal injury rate among Hispanic and Latino workers rose from 4.2 fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time workers in 2019 to 4.5 per 100,000 in 2020, the coalition will provide sessions on powered industrial vehicles and heat/cold stress and extreme weather offered in Spanish on March 28 and March 30 at 2 p.m. CDT.
To help grain industry employers understand how to effectively participate in Stand Up 4 Grain Safety Week, the coalition has developed a video safety message. In it, experts explain how small changes can have a big impact on grain-handling safety.
Changes include following critical steps for grain safety, such as: Turning off/locking out equipment before entering a bin or performing maintenance.
Alliance members will be providing information to the agribusiness community and the public through newsletters, emails and placement of information on the Stand Up webpage and social media using the hashtag #StandUp4GrainSafety.
OSHA’s Grain Handling Safety Standards focus on the grain and feed industry’s six major hazards: engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, “struck by,” combustible dust explosions and electrocution hazard.