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Farmer asphyxiated due to lack of oxygen after entering an oxygen limiting silo 3 days after filling.

Michigan State University
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 02MI143, 2003 Sep; :1-12
On October 8, 2002, a 46-year old male dairy farmer entered a 90-foot tall oxygen-limiting silo to adjust some lines for the air bladder system. Three days earlier, he had filled the silo with high-moisture shelled corn. Upon filling, he climbed to the top of the silo and discovered that corn covered the lines. He waited for three days to allow the corn to settle before attempting to retrieve the lines. He and a coworker climbed the fixed ladder to the top of the silo and opened the hatch. The victim hung a rope with knots to climb down into the silo, approximately 8-10 feet. The victim entered the silo; the coworker remained outside of the silo. No odor was present upon opening the silo hatch. "Silo gas" may not exhibit any detectable odor. The blower was not running. The victim entered the silo and cried out for help. The coworker reached for the victim's wrist but could not pull him out. The coworker called the victim's wife for help. The wife sent another family member to assist and also called for emergency assistance. The coworker and family member remained outside of the silo waiting for emergency assistance. Emergency assistance arrived and extricated the victim from the silo. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Recommendations: 1. Prior to entry into a silo, set up and run the blower to force air into the silo for at least 30 minutes to minimize the possibility of the air space above the silage to contain a hazardous atmosphere. Employees must follow the confined space entry procedures as required under MIOSHA Part 90, Confined Space Entry rules. 2. Prior to entry into the silo, test the air for lack of oxygen to support life and/or oxides of nitrogen or elevated carbon dioxide. 3. The blower should be left running while inside the silo. 4. Identify all confined spaces on the farm (such as silos, manure pits, grain bins, tanks, etc.) and develop a confined space entry program, that complies with the MIOSHA Part 90, Confined Space Entry, to minimize exposure to the hazards involved when entering the confined space. 5. Equipment owners should ensure that relevant manuals, such as an owner's and/or operator's manual are available to make sure safe work practices and appropriate service/maintenance schedules are developed and implemented. 6. Additionally, MIFACE recommends that fire departments and other emergency responders who conduct rescue/body-retrieval operations become familiar with confined spaces in agricultural settings and have appropriate respiratory protection devices that allow safe entry without jeopardizing the safety of the rescuers.
Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Traumatic-injuries; Region-5; Work-practices; Work-analysis; Work-performance; Farmers; Agricultural-machinery; Agricultural-workers; Confined-spaces; Occupational-accidents; Occupational-hazards
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-02MI143; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-521205
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Michigan State University
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division