Missouri grain, feed supplier faces $215K fine over alleged safety violations

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/PhilAugustavo
© GettyImages/PhilAugustavo

Related tags grain facility dust explosion Osha

OSHA has cited a grain-handling facility in Missouri, MFA Enterprises Inc, operating as West Central Agri Services, for one willful and six serious safety violations.

The US agency also proposed penalties of $215,525.

MFA Inc., an entity related to MFA Enterprises Inc., is one of the region's oldest agricultural cooperatives and brings together 45,000 farmers in Missouri and adjacent states. The company supplies feed, seed, fertilizer and crop protection products.  

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said had the company addressed potential dust ignition sources, an explosion last December that seriously injured an employee and caused the destruction of the main elevator at an Adrian grain loading facility might not have occurred.

The agency claimed its investigation found the company had failed to equip bucket elevators with monitoring devices that notify workers when a belt is slipping and potentially causing friction that could ignite grain dust.

OSHA standards require these devices at grain handling facilities that have a storage capacity of over one million bushels.

The agency also alleged the company had not updated its dust collection system since its installation in 1974.

Additionally, OSHA claimed workers were exposed to falls, as the company reportedly "willfully"​ allowed them to walk atop railcars to open and close hatches without fall protection.

The agency also claimed the company had failed to repair an overhead trolley system used for connecting fall protection devices. OSHA determined the system was out of service at the time of its investigation, and noted violations involving lack of preventive maintenance and a failure to designate hazardous areas.

“West Central Agri Services failed to follow industry standards and create company policies for safe grain handling, and needlessly put their own workers in serious danger,” s​aid OSHA regional administrator, Kimberly Stille.

MFA disputes findings 

MFA Enterprises, in a statement sent to the media outlet, World Grain, said it disputes some of the key facts that support the citations and continues to work with OSHA to resolve the matter.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the agency's independent review commission. 

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