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Workplace injuries: OSHA underscores hazards in grain industry

Grain handling and storage facilities nationwide, including here in Oklahoma, are known to pose multiple safety hazards. The most frequently cited causes of workplace injuries in this industry include auger entanglement, falls, combustible dust explosions, electrocutions and struck-by hazards. However, the one hazard that may not always be recognized as life threatening is engulfment by grain that can cause a worker's death within seconds.

Following a report of unsafe workplace conditions at a grain facility in another state, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched an inspection last Sept. to assess the company's compliance with prescribed safety regulations. The agency recently reported that the investigation had been completed and what investigators found resulted in the company being placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Citations were issued, and fines of $122,500 were proposed.

An OSHA area director said although the business owner was aware of the dangers the employees were exposed to, workers were sent into grain bins while augers were operational. He said this was but one of the several serious violations committed by the company. Profits should not be built on the well-being or lives of workers.

Oklahoma workers who are exposed to hazards that could cause serious workplace injuries or worse may find comfort in the knowledge that workers' compensation benefits may be claimed in the event of an injury or death. Injured workers are typically covered for medical expenses and lost wages. In cases in which fatal injuries cause the deaths of workers, death benefits may be claimed to help with end-of-life expenses and living expenses of dependents for a specific period after the death of a loved one.

Source: powderbulksolids.com, "OSHA Fines Grain Handling Facility $122K", March 17, 2016

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