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Suffocations in grain bins - Minnesota, 1992-1995.

Wahl GL; Folken SE; Boyle DJ; Parker DL
MMWR 1996 Oct; 45(39):837-841
The results of investigations of three suffocation incidents by FACE, the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program, in Minnesota were described. The first incident involved a 32 year old man working at a commercial grain elevator who became engulfed in 60,000 bushels of corn being emptied from the bottom of the bin by a grain auger. He had entered the bin through the roof hatch to dislodge crusted grain, even though he had been told not to do so and warning signs and confined space safety measures were clearly posted. The second incident involved a 44 year old farmer who was asphyxiated after being immersed in 6,000 bushels of corn being removed from a self unloading bin. He entered the bin through the roof hatch to dislodge crusted grain that was blocking the auger intake. The third incident involved a 13 year old boy who became submerged in 2,500 bushels of corn in a grain bin as the grain was being loaded into a truck by a portable auger. He had been watching the unloading process from a point near the roof opening of the bin. Surveillance for grain bin suffocations during 1992 through 1995 was discussed. An editorial note provided recommendations to prevent suffocations associated with grain storage bins. Workers should be educated about the risks of suffocation and trained in safe work practices and rescue measures applicable to flowing grain hazards. They should never enter grain storage structures while grain is being loaded or unloaded. Workers should never enter storage areas below grain that is adhering to side walls. If entry is needed, safety equipment designed to keep the worker above the surface of the grain should be used. When breaking up surface crusts, workers should remain positioned outside the bin and use wooden poles or a weighted line.
NIOSH-Author; Farmers; Agricultural-workers; Safety-measures; Grain-elevator-workers; Accident-statistics; Grain-elevators; Confined-spaces; Risk-factors; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Safety-equipment; Occupational-hazards
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Fiscal Year
Issue of Publication
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division