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Grain elevator leadman suffocates after being engulfed in shelled corn inside silo, April 5, 1989.

Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 89-33, 1989 Aug; :1-8
A 54 year old male grain elevator leadman died when he was engulfed in corn stored inside a 76 foot high 33 foot diameter grain silo. The victim was using a pneumatic conveyer to clean the inside of the grain silo. He was employed at a grain processing facility that has been in operation for 47 years. The facility employs 80 workers, and has no written safety program or policy. Workers receive on the job training. On the day prior to the accident, the victim and a coworker positioned the pneumatic conveyor outside the silo. They inspected the surface of the grain and felt confident that the surface was not crusted and that no bridging was present in the remaining grain. The next day the victim entered the silo and began removing the grain while the coworker, who was outside, operated the pneumatic conveyor. The victim working inside the silo called to his coworker outside to turn off the pneumatic conveyor. The coworker looked inside, but did not see the victim. After he failed to find the victim outside the tank, the decision was made to cut holes around the perimeter of the silo to remove the grain. The rapid removal of the grain by the pneumatic conveyor may have created a quick sand like effect at the feet of the victim causing him to be engulfed by the shelled corn before he could exist the silo. It was recommended that confined spaces containing unstable material be equipped with life lines and harness at their entrance points and workers should be trained in their usage. Constant communication should be maintained with the outside man.
NIOSH-Author; FACE-89-33; Region-4; Grain-elevators; Grain-elevator-workers; Grain-dusts; Confined-spaces; Accident-analysis
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Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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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