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Farmer engulfed in soybeans while operating grain vacuum in steel bin

Iowa Case Report: 12IA001
Report Date: September 11, 2012

The following report is the product of our Cooperative State partner and is presented here in its original unedited form from the state. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


In 2012, a 60-year-old farmer was engulfed in soybeans while he was using a grain vacuum (“grain vac”) to pneumatically convey seed beans from a steel storage bin to a waiting grain truck. The farmer was working alone inside the bin, prior to the arrival of his employee who often worked with him to empty bins. The event occurred before daylight and was not witnessed. The driver of the tractor-trailer was in his tractor cab doing paperwork, noticed a change in the sound of the grain vacuum, and got out to see what had happened. He entered the grain bin through the side access and located the victim who was under the surface of the beans which sloped from a depth of 2 ½ feet at the entry door, to approximately 12 feet at the far side of the bin. Very shortly after this, the farmer’s employee arrived on site and found the truck driver in the bin, in a panicked state due to the situation. The employee called 911 and notified emergency responders of the situation. The employee and the truck driver tried to pull the farmer up out of the grain but were unable to free him. Local responders arrived from the town nearby and frantically worked for over 15 minutes before they were able to extricate the farmer from beneath the grain. Paramedics performed CPR and life support but the farmer was pronounced dead 15 minutes after he was extricated.

Farmer engulfed in soybeans while operating grain vacuum in steel bin [PDF 1,010 KB]