Grain bin operators in Oklahoma and other states are responsible for the safety of their employees. The most significant hazard these workers face is engulfment. For this reason, compliance with the safety regulations prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is essential. The slightest safety violation could cause a fatal workplace injury.
Sadly, noncompliance by a business owner in a neighboring state resulted in the deaths of two employees. Following an investigation, OSHA has added this grain bin operator to its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. A spokesperson for the safety agency says grain is like quicksand, and any worker risks his or her life by entering a bin without the necessary personal protective equipment.
Investigators found that the chutes of the silo and the conveyor belt were not blocked off or locked out/tagged out. Furthermore, workers were untrained in the hazards and potential engulfment, and although they wore body harnesses, they were allowed to enter the bin without lifelines attached. The employer also failed to provide training in rescue procedures that could have prevented these fatalities.
OSHA proposed penalties of more than $507,000; however, that brings no relief for the families who lost loved ones in this tragedy. Whenever a fatal workplace injury claims the life of a worker in Oklahoma, the surviving family members can pursue financial assistance through the workers' compensation insurance program. An experienced attorney can assist with the navigation of death benefits claims, which will cover the costs of a funeral and burial along with a financial package to make up for lost wages and help with day-to-day living expenses.