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Grain entrapment accidents spike in 2016

Grain silos continue to put workers in New Jersey and around the country at risk, according to a report by Purdue University. It notes that grain entrapment accidents rose by 21 percent in 2016 from the previous year.

These types of accidents often occur when grain stops flowing freely in a silo and a worker enters the structure to fix the problem. Once inside, the grain could suddenly fall down on the worker or the worker could sink into the grain and be buried. In 2016, there were 29 entrapment accidents, which caused 18 deaths. In 2015, there were 24 entrapment accidents, leading to 14 deaths. Meanwhile, 42 grain-related incidents involving entanglement with machinery, falls and asphyxiation killed another 22 workers.

The worst year for grain entrapment accidents in recent history was 2010, when 59 accidents claimed the lives of 31 workers. Since then, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has promoted yearly regional grain safety programs, primarily in in the Midwest and Great Plains where there are a lot of cattle ranches. However, some agricultural industry organizations believe those programs are no longer necessary. OSHA has also scaled back on inspections of grain facilities in recent years. In 2016, OSHA inspected only 93 sites, compared with 252 in 2012. The recent increase in deaths may indicate that more enforcement is needed.

New Jersey workers injured in grain accidents may be forced to miss weeks or months of work as they recover. During this difficult time, workers' compensation benefits could help pay medical bills and other financial obligations. To learn more about filing a workers' compensation claim, injured workers may wish to discuss their case with an attorney.

Source: Bloomberg, "Grain Handling Fatalities Up in 2016, Purdue Study Finds," Bruce Rolfsen, March 26, 2017

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