Farmer dies after being engulfed in corn inside a steel grain bin.
Minnesota Department of Health
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 94MN058, 1994 Dec; :1-4
A 44-year-old male farmer (victim) suffocated after he was engulfed in corn inside a steel grain bin. The bin was equipped with an unloading auger mounted between a raised steel floor and the concrete base that supported the bin. It was also equipped with a ventilation fan designed to circulate air through the grain stored in the bin. The fan was not turned on at the time of the incident. The bin was approximately two-thirds full of corn at the time of the incident. The victim and his brother were removing corn from the bin on the afternoon of the incident. They were both outside the bin as the unloading auger filled a farm wagon with corn. When the wagon was nearly full, the victim's brother entered the wagon to level the corn. As he leveled the corn, they both noticed that the flow of corn from the auger was gradually decreasing. They thought the reduced flow was caused by crusted grain blocking the auger intake in the bin floor. The victim walked around the bin and climbed a ladder to an access opening in the bin roof. He entered the bin with a steel rod to push through the corn to the auger intake. Apparently after he pushed the rod down into the corn, he broke the crusted grain blocking the auger intake. The flow of corn into the auger suddenly increased and he was quickly engulfed in the flowing grain. Approximately five minutes after the victim entered the bin, the victim's brother stopped the unloading auger. He immediately climbed the ladder to the roof access opening and noticed only the victim's arm above the corn. He entered the bin and uncovered the victim's head but was unable to pull him from the corn. He exited the bin, placed a 911 call, and notified another brother of the situation. The victim's two brothers entered the bin and pulled the victim from the corn. They began performing resuscitation efforts which they continued until rescue personnel arrived. Rescue personnel removed the victim from the bin and continued resuscitation efforts as the victim was transferred to a local hospital. He was pronounced dead at the hospital approximately one hour after he entered the bin. MN FACE investigators concluded that, in order to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, the following guidelines should be followed: 1. all equipment used to fill or empty a grain bin should be stopped, and the power source locked out, before workers enter the bin; 2. workers should follow established confined space entry procedures when entering grain bins; 3. grain bins should be identified as confined spaces and posted with hazard warning signs at all entrances; and 4. grain bin ventilation fans should be turned on and operating properly before workers enter bins which are either full or partially full.
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