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Farmer dies after getting caught in auger of a combine header.

Iowa Department of Public 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 95IA035, 1996 Apr; :1-3
An 84 year old farmer was killed while cleaning dirt out of an old combine header. The victim was working alone combining beans in a remote field. He had purchased a used early 1970's self-propelled combine the previous year. This was the first time he was using it in the field. He had difficulty operating the combine; it did not separate the beans properly and the cutting height was too high at times and too low in some places where he had been combining. The combine header on the left side had become clogged with field dirt while traveling too close to the ground. The farmer had apparently disengaged the header using a control lever in the cab, then climbed down and proceeded to clean the sickle and auger of dirt. He left the engine running because it had a bad battery. Apparently the header slipped into gear on its own while he was cleaning the dirt. The reel and auger had thrown him around to the right side and pulled his left leg into the auger. The chain driving the reel and auger broke while he was caught between the reel and auger leaving the sickle still running. He was found unconscious lying on the sickle with significant leg injury and loss of blood. An emergency crew used the jaws of life to cut through the reel to access the victim, but he died enroute to the hospital. Recommendations following our investigation were as follows: 1. The operator should disengage the header and other moving parts as well as shut off the engine before cleaning, maintenance, or working close to the combine. 2. Machinery dealers should ensure that their machines are in safe working order when sold and that the operator is familiar with safety and operation of the machine. 3. Owners/operators should keep combines in good working order so they can shut off the engine during cleaning or routine maintenance of the machine.
Region-7; 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; Equipment-design; Equipment-reliability; Farmers; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-machinery; Agricultural-workers; Agriculture; Machine-operation; Mechanical-cleaning
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-95IA035; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-708674
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Iowa Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division