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Farmer engulfed in soybeans while operating grain vacuum in steel bin.

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 12IA001, 2012 Sep; :1-10
In 2012, a 60-year-old farmer was engulfed in soybeans while he was using a grain vacuum ("grain vac") to pneumatically convey seed beans from a steel storage bin to a waiting grain truck. The farmer was working alone inside the bin, prior to the arrival of his employee who often worked with him to empty bins. The event occurred before daylight and was not witnessed. The driver of the tractor-trailer was in his tractor cab doing paperwork, noticed a change in the sound of the grain vacuum, and got out to see what had happened. He entered the grain bin through the side access and located the victim who was under the surface of the beans which sloped from a depth of 2 ½ feet at the entry door, to approximately 12 feet at the far side of the bin. Very shortly after this, the farmer's employee arrived on site and found the truck driver in the bin, in a panicked state due to the situation. The employee called 911 and notified emergency responders of the situation. The employee and the truck driver tried to pull the farmer up out of the grain but were unable to free him. Local responders arrived from the town nearby and frantically worked for over 15 minutes before they were able to extricate the farmer from beneath the grain. Paramedics performed CPR and life support but the farmer was pronounced dead 15 minutes after he was extricated. The following recommendations are made to prevent grain bin engulfment and asphyxiation: 1. Never enter a bin when working alone. Notify coworkers of a planned entry and do not enter a bin unless there are at least 2 trained partners on site. 2. Have an accident response plan in place prior to entering bins, and train employees, family members, and visiting contractors on emergency response measures. 3. Work in bins when lighting is adequate to assess potential hazards and gauge the level and slope of grain in the bin. Maintain a leveled surface of grain as grain is removed, to avoid sudden shifting and cascading of grain. 4. Follow confined space entry procedures when entering bins. 5. Put signage on grain bins notifying of the hazard of engulfment and asphyxiation, and warning against entry. In the months following the fatality, the farmer's family sought assistance from Iowa's Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (I-CASH), the Iowa FACE program, and the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) to initiate training programs for area farmers on grain bin safety, and for local first responders on grain bin rescue techniques.
Region-7; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Protective-equipment; Protective-measures; Safety-education; Safety-engineering; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Training; Work-practices; Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Agriculture; Agricultural-workers; Farmers; Confined-spaces; Author Keywords: farmer; grain bin; engulfment
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-12IA001; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008460
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Iowa State Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division