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Farmer 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 05MN040, 2006 Feb; :1-5
A 47-year-old male farmer (victim) died after he was engulfed in corn inside a steel bin that was nearly full of corn. The bin was equipped with a ventilation fan however it was not turned on at the time of the incident. The bin had one access hatch located near the edge of the roof that was accessible by an exterior ladder attached to the side of the bin. The bin was also equipped with an unloading auger located in the base of the bin. After the victim and his father positioned a portable auger near the bin, opened the bin's roof hatch and parked a truck beneath the portable auger, they started the electric motors that operated the augers. They opened a sliding control gate for an auger intake located at the center of the bin and corn began to flow from the bin. A few minutes after corn began to flow from the bin, the victim took a grain shovel and climbed the bin ladder mounted to the side of the bin. After climbing the ladder, he entered the bin with the shovel through the roof hatch located near the edge of the bin roof to check the surface of the corn for any signs of crusting. A few minutes after the victim entered the bin, the victim's father heard a banging sound and immediately stopped both augers. He called his son's name but did not receive a reply. He climbed the exterior bin ladder and looked into the bin through the roof hatch but did not see his son. He climbed down the ladder and called his son's name but again did not get a response. Since he had not been in direct contact with his son for the entire time that the augers had been operating, he thought that maybe his son had climbed down from the bin and walked to a nearby farmhouse. He walked to the farmhouse, entered it and called his son's name but again did not receive a reply. The victim's father returned to the bin, climbed the exterior bin ladder and again looked into the bin. He saw the scoop of the shovel that his son had taken into the bin protruding vertically above the corn and realized that his son was submerged in the corn. He climbed down the bin ladder and placed a call to emergency rescue personnel and to a nearby farm neighbor. Rescue personnel arrived at the farm shortly after they were called and used power saws to cut holes in the sides of the bin to quickly empty it. The victim's body was discovered about 20-25 minutes later. Efforts to revive him at the scene were unsuccessful and he was declared 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. All equipment used to empty a grain bin should be stopped, and the power source locked out, before workers enter the bin.; 2. Workers should follow confined space entry procedures when entering grain bins; 3. Grain bins should be identified as confined spaces and posted with hazard warning signs at all entrances; and 4. Grain bin ventilation fans should be turned on and operating properly before workers enter bins that are either full or partially full.
Region-5; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-workers; Farmers; Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Confined-spaces; Protective-equipment; Protective-measures; Protective-materials
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-05MN040; 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