OSHA Emphasizes Safety Resources for Grain Handling Operators

Oct. 16, 2009
After a recent increase in the number of workers killed while performing grain handling operations such as loading, emptying and cleaning storage bins, OSHA is reminding employers and workers of available resources and standards that identify hazards and offer solutions to prevent fatalities.

OSHA's Grain Handling Facilities standard includes a requirement that employers provide workers entering bins or tanks with appropriate personal protective equipment such as full body harnesses for easier removal in the event of an emergency. Providing proper protection and not allowing workers to walk or stand in products piled higher than waist high, reduces the risk of workers sinking and suffocating.

Recent incidents involved workers in grain handling facilities who died from falls, suffocation and entanglement in equipment. While suffocation and falls are the leading causes of death at these facilities, fatalities can also occur from electrocutions, fires and explosions.

"These deaths could have been prevented if proper safety measures were used," said acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab. "Employers are responsible for knowing what hazards exist in their workplaces and ensuring that workers are not exposed to risks that could result in injury or death."

The standard also requires that employers develop an emergency action plan that protects workers from fires and other emergencies, and maintain a housekeeping program that controls dust accumulation.

Visit OSHA's Grain Handling and Agricultural Operations Safety and Health Topics pages for additional information on other hazards in this industry.

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