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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 96MN047, 1996 Aug; :1-5
A 71-year-old male farmer (victim) suffocated after he was engulfed in corn inside a steel 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 grain drying unit that included a fan that could be used to aerate the stored grain by circulating air through it. The fan was not turned on at the time of the incident. The victim was removing corn from the bin when he noticed that the flow of corn from the unloading auger was decreasing. He climbed an exterior ladder on the bin to an access opening on the roof of the bin. He entered the bin with a shovel in order to remove corn from the side door of the bin so a sweep auger could be placed in the bin to remove the rest of the corn. When the victim began shoveling, the grain began to flow again and he became immersed up to his shoulders. The victim's brother, who had been mowing grass in the area, noticed that the flow of grain had entirely stopped and climbed to the top of the bin to investigate. The victim's brother attempted to move the corn away from his brother by using the auger. This caused the corn to flow, further burying the victim. The victim's brother made a call to emergency response personnel and then entered the bin himself in an attempt to shovel corn away from the victim. The victim's brother also became immersed in corn up to his shoulders. Emergency response workers were able to rescue the victim's brother by pulling him out of the corn. The emergency response workers then cut holes in the sides of the bin in order to let the corn spill out of the bin. The victim was removed from the bin and transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead after resuscitation attempts failed. 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 sign 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.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Work-areas; Work-performance; Work-practices; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Protective-measures; Farmers; Agricultural-machinery; Agricultural-workers; Equipment-operators; Protective-equipment; Machine-guarding; Confined-spaces
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-96MN047; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-507283
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Minnesota Department of Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division