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Farm worker 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 02MN040, 2003 Feb; :1-4
An 18-year-old male farm worker (victim) died after he was engulfed in corn inside a steel bin. The bin was equipped with a ventilation fan to aerate grain stored in the bin. It was not turned on at the time of the incident. The bin had one roof access hatch that could be reached from an exterior bin ladder. The bin had a roof ladder adjacent to the access hatch that enabled a worker to sit on the roof next to the access hatch. The bin was equipped with an unloading auger in the floor of the bin. It extended from one side of the bin to the center of the bin floor where there was an intake opening. There was a second intake opening about six feet from the edge of the bin. At the time of the incident, the center auger intake was closed and grain was flowing into the auger via the intake near the edge of the bin. The bin contained about 35,000 bushels of corn at the time of the incident. The victim and another worker were transferring corn from the bin to a raised holding bin at the site. While corn flowed from the bin the victim climbed the exterior bin ladder and opened the access hatch located on the bin roof. The coworker was not aware that the victim had opened the roof hatch and while he concentrated on the task of filling the holding bin, he lost track of the victim. After the holding bin was filed, the coworker realized that the victim was no longer around. He thought that the victim may have left the area for a lunch break since it was nearly noon. After lunch, the coworker asked if anyone had seen the victim. When they were unable to find him, they assumed he might be in the bin and called emergency personnel who arrived shortly after being notified. They began to empty the bin by cutting holes in it. About six hours later the victim's body was found inside the bin. He was 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 not position themselves near grain bin access openings while a bin is being filled or emptied 2. all equipment used to empty a grain bin should be stopped, and the power source locked out, before workers enter the bin. 3. workers should follow confined space entry procedures when entering grain bins; 4. grain bins should be identified as confined spaces and posted with hazard warning signs at all entrances; and 5. grain bin ventilation fans should be turned on and operating properly before workers enter bins that contain grain.
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-workers; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-machinery; Agriculture; Equipment-operators; Equipment-reliability; Farmers
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
FACE-02MN040; 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