The Occupational Safety and Health Administration have fined a Portland-based grain supplier, for health and safety violations. One of the company's workers died in an accident at their Arvilla, North Dakota facility last year, according to KFYRTV, a FOX News affiliate in the region.
The company has a 15 day period to either pay the fines, request a meeting with OSHA's area director or contest OSHA's decision.
A tragic accident
The accident occurred on July 3 2019, when a worker was buried under about 15 feet of corn while cleaning an elevator bin, according to the Jamestown Sun. The man was finally pulled from the bin after about two hours of work by rescue crews, but was unresponsive. He was pronounced dead on the scene by officials from the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office.
"This tragedy could have been prevented if the employer had simply followed well-known safety procedures..." - OSHA Area Director Scott Overson
Soon after the man's death, OSHA began investigating whether procedural and safety issues may have been responsible. They quickly determined that they had. OSHA cited violations that included rules related to grain bin entry and cleaning operations. Industry workers are not supposed to "walk the grain" or have contact with certain machine parts, in cases where it can be prevented by locking out the bin's conveyor system. Other issues included ladder use, machine guarding and walking surface and bin rescue procedures.
"This tragedy could have been prevented if the employer had simply followed well-known safety procedures...Instead, they exposed employees to dangerous hazards that resulted in the loss of a life," said OSHA Area Director Scott Overson, according to KFYRTV.
In all, OSHA has proposed $190,000 in penalties for the company.
A report from OSHA cited entrapment in grain bins as one of the leading causes of injury and death in the grain handling industry, with 26 deaths in one year alone. As a result, citations for grain elevator operators that let their employees enter grain storage facilities without the correct training, equipment or safety procedures are some of the most common in the field. OSHA has also laid out a set of safety standards for operators that includes requirements for walking surfaces, exit routes and reporting requirements.
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