OSHA cited the company for one willful and two serious violations; it faces US$148,431 in penalties.
An OSHA investigation found the Furst-McNess Corp failed to implement a housekeeping program to control and remove combustible dust accumulations that occur during storage of grain materials and manufacturing of animal feed.
The US agency also cited the company for failing to maintain grain-processing equipment.
OSHA said its standards require that grain dust and ignition sources be controlled to protect workers from potentially catastrophic explosions.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
‘Many grain dust related explosions could be avoided’
Kingsly Ambrose, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, Purdue University, tracked US grain and feed handling related dust-related explosions in a report published last year. The goal of the data collection project is to help create greater awareness of such risks, in a bid to reduce such US feed and grain sector dust-related incidents in the future.
“We need to keep on finding ways to educate the industry – one way to help is gathering the data,” he told FeedNavigator.
Many grain dust related explosions could be avoided, he said. Some of the steps that grain and feed handling facilities can take to address dust linked risks include keeping units clean of dust and maintaining equipment in good working order, along with training employees about the dangers of grain dust.
An incident can occur, for example, when there is a reduced number of handlers to deal with a large amount of grain, said Ambrose. With limited manpower, the focus will often be on just getting the job done rather than worrying about the safety issues, he added.
“Safety sometimes takes a back seat and that’s how some accidents happen,” he said. “If [a facility] spends a little more time on safety issues, I think most of the issues can be prevented.”