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The dangers of grain engulfment

For Pennsylvania employees who are required to work in or around grain storage facilities, grain engulfment is a deadly hazard that they face. If a worker becomes smothered by grain in a storage facility, he or she could suffer serious injuries or even death if rescue does not happen fast enough. From April 9 to April 13, the National Grain and Feed Association along with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration worked together to raise awareness about the dangers.

Out-of-condition grain is the number one cause of engulfment. During the unloading process, flowing grain can act like quicksand and fully bury employees in less than 22 seconds. Bridged grain, or when grain becomes clumped together, becomes dangerous when it begins to fall into empty space, as it can quickly trap anyone who may be underneath. When avalanche engulfment occurs, a pile of grain can suddenly collapse on a worker, potentially resulting in suffocation.

To keep workers safe in both commercial and private grain storage facilities, training is essential, especially if workers are not aware of just how dangerous flowing grain can be. OSHA regulations and rules state that all of the equipment around the grain storage facility must be turned off. Further, workers should never walk down grain piles to make it flow.

While large commercial grain storage facilities are required to follow OSHA regulations, smaller private farms may not be held to the same standards due to the size of the company. However, the company size does not make working around grain any safer. If an employee suffers a crush injury after becoming engulfed by grain, he or she may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits to cover the cost of his or her care. An attorney may help file the initial claim or file an appeal if the claim is denied.

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