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Farmer dies after becoming entangled in silo unloading auger.

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 02MN049, 2003 Mar; :1-4
A 20-year-old farmer (victim) died after he became entangled in a silo auger. The inside of the silo was illuminated by natural light that entered the silo through skylights in it's dome and a small opening near the bottom of the silo. This made it difficult to see anything inside the silo without looking through the small opening at the base of the silo. In the floor of the silo was an unloading auger that extended to the center of the floor. A gearbox in the center of the floor at the auger intake opening connected one end of the unloading auger to a sweep auger located inside the silo. The sweep auger extended from the center of the silo to the silo wall and was used to remove feed when it no longer flowed to the center of the silo. When running the sweep auger traveled clockwise around the silo floor. The unloading auger extended beyond the outer edge of the silo and dumped into a horizontal conveyor located beneath it. One end of the conveyor was inclined to provide an elevated discharge point so a portable feed mixer could be parked beneath it. The victim and his brother were doing chores at the farm however they were not working together at all times. The victim parked a feed mixer at the end of the silo conveyor and was filling it with corn, hay and commercial dairy feed supplements. The silo containing the corn only had about 6-8 inches of corn in it. The victim turned on the unloading auger, the sweep auger and the horizontal conveyor to transferring corn from the silo to the mixer. While mixing the feed, his father stopped at the farm, picked up his younger son and drove to a nearby town. When they returned about 30 minutes later, the father dropped his younger son off and he drove to a nearby farm where he lived. The victim's brother soon noticed that the mixer was still parked where it was when he left the farm. He investigated and found all of the equipment running but he could not find his brother. He looked through the opening at the base of the silo and saw his brother caught in the sweep auger. He stopped the augers and then drove to his father's farm and informed him of the incident. Emergency personnel were called and then the victim's family returned to the scene. Emergency personnel arrived shortly after family members returned to the scene. They and the victim's father entered the silo and determined that the victim was deceased. A coroner arrived and after the victim was examined by the coroner, he was removed from the silo. The victim's cell phone and his pliers were found on the ground outside the silo and directly below the small opening at the base of the silo. The victim was wearing a hooded sweatshirt that had a drawstring to tighten the hood. Based on the evidence at the scene, the victim probably looked into the silo to determine how much corn was still in it. While doing so, the sweep auger apparently moved past the opening and the ends of the drawstring in the victim's hooded sweatshirt became entangled in the auger. Unable to free himself or stop the augers, the victim was pulled into the silo. MN FACE investigators concluded that to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, the following guidelines should be followed: 1. all machines and equipment should be turned off and completely stopped before any component or aspect of a work place environment is evaluated, 2. an adequate artificial light source should be available to illuminate those areas of work place environments that are poorly illuminated; and 3. loose-fitting clothing should not be worn near operating machines and equipment.
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; Confined-spaces; Clothing; Protective-clothing; Machine-guarding; Lighting
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
FACE-02MN049; 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: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division