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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 96MN086, 1997 Mar; :1-6
A 38-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 that was installed below the raised steel floor of the bin. It was also equipped with a ventilation fan that was not turned on at the time of the incident. The bin 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 steel bin contained approximately 5,900 bushels of corn at the time of the incident. The victim was home alone and used a feed grinder to grind corn that was stored in the bin for his livestock. While grinding on the day of the incident, the flow of corn from the bin apparently stopped. He stopped the bin unloading auger before he climbed to the roof of the bin to determine why the flow of grain had stopped. He apparently found that a frozen crust had developed on the surface of the stored grain. The victim entered the bin through the roof hatch with a long steel pipe to break apart the crusted grain. After he entered the bin the crusted grain collapsed and he was engulfed. The victim's wife arrived home from work later that afternoon. Shortly after she arrived home, she went outside to help her husband with the evening chores. She noticed the tractor and grinder near the bin but could not locate her husband. She called for him several times and then became concerned that he might be trapped inside the bin. She ran to the house and called emergency medical personnel who arrived shortly after being notified. She also notified family members who lived nearby and immediately came to the scene. Rescuers cut holes in the sides of the bin and used a tractor and loader to move the corn as it spilled from the bin. Approximately one hour after rescue personnel arrived the victim was found, removed from the bin and pronounced dead at the scene. MN FACE investigators concluded that, in order to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, the following guidelines should be followed: 1. workers should never stand or walk on the unstable surfaces of stored material; 2. workers should follow 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.
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; Warning-signs
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-96MN086; 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