A 34-year-old worker's attempt to clean out a grain silo on September 12, 2022, at Agri-Service Center in Roseland, Nebraska turned tragic when corn engulfed and asphyxiated him. He died on-site.
An investigation by the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at CHS Inc, operating as Agri-Service Center Roseland, determined that the employer disregarded federal regulations designed to prevent such tragedies and found the worker's personal protective equipment was not adequate for protection from engulfment hazards.
OSHA also found the firm failed to equip the employee with an adequate body harness and lifeline that co-workers could have used to rescue him. Inspectors discovered the company kept a retractable lifeline tripod on-site, a device not designed for side entry onto grain, and had no adequate alternative method available to protect workers in silos, claimed the agency.
OSHA issued CHS citations for 16 violations – two willful and 14 serious – for allowing workers to enter bins with grain build-up, and for failing to develop procedures for entering permit-required confined spaces, ensure emergency services were available, recognize and evaluate hazards and train workers, and implement machine safety procedures to prevent grain bin equipment from running while workers were inside bins.
The agency proposed just over $531,000 in penalties and placed the company in its severe violator enforcement program.
"We express our deepest condolences to the family. We are reviewing the citations from OSHA and will reserve further comment at this time," said CHS in a statement.
It 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 independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
"The dangers of working inside grain bins are well-known and safety standards have been in place for decades. Despite our continued outreach and enforcement activity in this highly hazardous industry, we continue to see preventable fatalities," said OSHA area director, Matthew Thurlby, in Omaha, Nebraska.
Through its alliance program, OSHA has partnered with the Grain Handling Safety Coalition, the Grain Elevator and Processing Society and the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) to address hazards, reduce risks and improve safety and health management systems to help prevent life-altering injuries and fatalities.