Grain Storage Bins: A Deadly Danger for Workers


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IROQUOIS COUNTY, Ill. – The Illinois State Fire Marshal is warning workers about the extreme danger of entering grain storage bins. 

The recent increase in accidents has prompted the state to prohibit workers under 16 years old from entering grain bins altogether.

Moving grain can act like “quicksand,” and bury and suffocate a person in seconds. Standing on or below bridged grain or accumulated grain on the side of bins can also lead to suffocation. Even trying to dislodge the grain is dangerous.

According to the State Fire Marshal, workers have only 2-3 seconds to react once the auger starts. After 4-5 seconds, they are trapped, and in just 22 seconds, they can be completely covered. Suffocation can occur within seconds of being covered.

A dangerous situation can arise when partially unloading a bin. When unloading begins, bridged grain falls into the air space, instantly trapping workers. Before the grain flow can be stopped, workers are covered.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can provide more information or help file a complaint by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).

Illinois averages about 20 fatal agricultural related accidents for every 100,000 workers each year. Workers and employers are urged to take precautions and strictly follow safety guidelines when working with grain storage bins. It is crucial to prevent any more tragic accidents from happening.


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