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Farmer dies after being engulfed in corn screenings 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 96MN083, 1997 Feb; :1-5
A 31-year-old male farmer (victim) suffocated after he was engulfed inside a steel grain bin. The victim was unloading corn screenings that consisted of crushed kernels and other damaged grain material from the bin. The bin was equipped with an unloading auger and a ventilation fan that was not turned on at the time of the incident. It had an access hatch located near the edge of the roof that was accessible by an exterior ladder attached to the side of the bin. The victim used the bin's unloading auger to remove screenings from the bin. While he filled the wagon, the flow of screenings from the bin apparently stopped. He stopped the bin's unloading auger and climbed to the roof of the bin where he apparently discovered that the flow stopped because the screenings had a consistency that caused them to cluster together. He entered the bin through the access hatch to break apart the screenings and became engulfed when they collapsed. Several hours later, the victim's father arrived at the farm but was unable to locate his son. He climbed to the bin roof and discovered one of the victim's feet protruding from the screenings. He placed a call to rescue personnel who arrived shortly after being notified. Approximately thirty minutes later, the victim was removed from the bin and transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. MN FACE investigators concluded that, in order to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, the following guidelines should be followed: 1. workers should follow established confined space entry procedures when entering grain bins; 2. grain bins should be identified as confined spaces and posted with hazard warning signs at all entrances; 3. workers should never stand or walk on the unstable surfaces of stored material; 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; Agricultural-machinery; Agricultural-workers; Equipment-operators; Farmers; 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-96MN083; 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