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Farmer's helper dies of asphyxiation in grain bin.

Wisconsin Department of Health & Family Services
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 93WI143, 1993 Dec; :1-3
A 63-year old male farmer's helper (the victim) died after becoming engulfed in shelled corn inside a grain storage bin. The bin was located on the farmer's property and was approximately one-half filled at the time of the incident (3,000 bushels). The farmer had called upon his cousin (farmers' helper-victim) to help him unload corn from the storage bin into a wagon using a grain auger to facilitate the emptying process. The victim and the farmer were working together. The farmer reports that he had been inside the bin with his cousin. Just prior to the incident, he had exited the bin and gone down to check the flow of corn into the truck below. He then climbed back up to the top of the bin and heard his cousin yell for help from inside the bin. The victim (his cousin) had entered the bin to probe the corn with a rod to break up moldy corn that had crusted over and created a pocket that interrupted the flow. Apparently when the victim broke through the crust with the rod he was drawn down with the flow and became engulfed in the corn. The farmer shut down the auger and entered the bin and tried to dig through the grain to free the victim and being unsuccessful called 911. Emergency services arrived within 8 minutes but they could not locate the victim who had slid deep within the 3,000 bushels of corn. Torches were used to cut the bin to allow for removal of the corn and access to the victim. When the victim was extracted from the corn bin approximately 90 minutes had elapsed. The county coroner pronounced the victim dead at the scene. The Wisconsin FACE investigator concluded that, in order to prevent similar occurrences, employers/farmers should: 1. Ensure that life lines and harnesses are present and used at entrance points to confined spaces (e.g. grain storage bins) containing unstable materials. 2. Ensure that a standby person is available when work is being performed in a confined space and that visual and verbal contact is continuous. 3. Ensure that posted danger signs are adhered to.
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; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-machinery; Agricultural-processes; Agricultural-workers; Agriculture; 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-93WI143; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-507081
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Wisconsin Department of Health & Family Services
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division