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Farmer suffocates in grain bin while unloading corn.

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 01IA017, 2001 Dec; :1-5
During the summer of 2001, an 82-year-old active farmer was killed while working inside a 15,000-bushel (525 cubic meter) capacity grain bin that was 2/3 filled with shelled corn. He had been in the bin the day before, using a rake to break up clumps of moldy corn to prevent blocking of the unloading auger. On this day, the victim's son had been unloading the bin using the bottom-unloading auger, and had just filled their semi-truck with 900 bushels (31.5 cubic meters) of corn. The son then drove the grain truck to a grain terminal, and returned 1.5 hours later. He could not find his father, and was suspicious that he might be in the bin because of the behavior of farm dogs. The grandson began to search under the surface of the corn, and eventually found his grandfather completely buried in the corn. Emergency response crews were contacted and upon their arrival, the main bin door was opened. It took an additional two hours to remove enough corn to gain access to the victim, using a grain auger and a grain vacuum. Prior to the unloading of the bin, the victim's son was not aware that his father was in or around the bins during unloading, and there was no reason for anyone to be in the bin at that time. Recommendations based on our investigation are as follows: 1. No one should be in grain bins during unloading. 2. A safety harness and safety line should be worn when entering bins. 3. When entering grain bins, a second person is needed outside the bin, with an adequate communication method. 4. Bin unloading equipment should be locked-out prior to an individual entering a bin. 5. A safety-response plan should be developed prior to entering a grain bin.
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; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment; Farmers; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-machinery; Agricultural-processes; Agricultural-workers; Agriculture; Machine-guarding; Equipment-operators; Grain-elevators; 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-01IA017; 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