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Grain bin workers exposed to workplace injuries

Agricultural workers in Illinois are often exposed to some of the most hazardous work environments in the state. The large machinery used in grain processing facilities presents unique dangers not found in most workplaces. Those workers who are injured in grain facilities are entitled to workers' compensation benefits, especially if they suffer from permanently disabling injuries.

One Illinois-based company was recently cited by federal safety inspectors for multiple hazards at one of its grain handling facilities. Inspectors from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that workers at the facility were exposed to serious workplace injuries which could be career-ending for many workers. Proposed fines against the company total $84,000.

Multiple safety violations found at the facility included failing to de-energize and lock out the grain sweep augers before workers entered grain bins.

"Failing to de-energize and lock out sweep augers puts workers entering grain bins at an unnecessary risk for amputation injuries, engulfment and suffocation," said an OSHA spokeswoman.

Sweep auger injuries are unfortunately relatively common. A sweep auger is a large drill that moves grain toward the center of a grain bin. When these massive augers are not properly secured, it is very easy for an unsuspecting employee be struck and severely injured by these machines.

Federal inspectors also found that the company failed to provide adequate rescue equipment for workers who worked in grain bins that posed engulfment hazards.

The company has been inspected by OSHA over 50 times since 1980 and authorities have issued the company over 100 safety violation citations.

Source: OSHA, "US Labor Department's OSHA cites Illinois-based Growmark with 5 safety violations for failing to protect grain bin workers at Ixonia, Wis., facility," Region 5 News Release: 12-59-CHI, Jan. 24, 2012

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