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Request for assistance in preventing entrapment and suffocation caused by the unstable surfaces of stored grain and other materials.

Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 88-102, 1987 Dec; :1-10
Methods to prevent entrapment and suffocation of workers handling unstable materials such as stored grain, gravel, and sand were discussed. Seven reports were included of accidents resulting in deaths of 12 workers. Nine deaths occurred when material surfaces on which workers were standing collapsed. Materials involved included sawdust (one death), limestone (two deaths), coal (five deaths), and sand (one death). One victim was buried by grain which broke loose from the sides of a supposedly empty bin which he had entered. Another victim was buried by soybean meal when the boatswain's chair in which he was suspended for dislodging meal from the bin side swung below the level of material, which collapsed and broke the chair rope. One victim was caught in a grain flow created by the auger he was using to remove grain and clean a wheat storage bin. It is recommended that workers be trained to assume that all stored materials are bridged and have potential for entrapment and suffocation. Workers must not enter a storage area from the bottom when material is adhering to sides or bridged. No one should stand on top of stored material. Safety signs should be posted as part of a complete safety program. Mechanical devices should be used in place of workers so that no one has to enter such storage areas. Mechanical agitation or vibration of stored materials should be used to prevent bridging. Safety belts or harnesses should be worn and equipped with life lines when workers enter a storage area.
Accident-prevention; Accident-analysis; Safety-practices; Grain-elevator-workers; Grain-elevators; Sawmill-workers; Foundry-sands; Grinding-mills
Publication Date
Document Type
Numbered Publication; Alert
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 88-102
NIOSH Division
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division