Contract Agricultural Worker Died After Being Engulfed by Tons of Nuts — California
Updated October 31, 2023
California Case Report: 22CA004
Release Date: September 29, 2023
On September 8, 2022, a 47-year-old Hispanic male agricultural contract worker (the victim) was working in a tree nut processing facility labeling large (2200 pound) sacks of nuts near the end of the night shift. He went in search
of shoe coverings, recalling that he had seen a box in an empty storage silo. When he did not return to his workstation, the site supervisor went looking for him and noticed about 50-75 tons of nuts spilling out of the open access hatch to one of the 850 ton silos onsite.
The site supervisor called a team of co-workers to clean up the spill, and after a few minutes they found the unresponsive victim buried under the nuts. The site supervisor called 911 and several co-workers performed CPR until emergency services arrived. Paramedics arrived but were unable to revive the victim, and he died from asphyxiation.
- The staffing agency did not conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) to identify hazards prior to assigning their employee to the client site.
- The staffing agency did not provide adequate training to their employee prior to assigning him to the client site.
- The nut processing facility did not have a system in place to ensure filled silos were locked and inaccessible.
California FACE (CA/FACE) investigators concluded that to help prevent similar occurrences, staffing agencies who provide temporary staffing, and operating nut processing facilities should:
- Conduct a thorough JHA at their client’s facilities to identify all hazards to which their employees may be exposed and provide safety training to their employees prior to assignment.
- Install inner doors inside of silo access hatches that swing inward to prevent catastrophic spillage.
- Develop and implement a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for opening and entering silos.