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Work accident sheds light on the grain industry

A work accident is fairly common to those who have worked in the grain bins that dot the Illinois landscape. Unfortunately, it seems that some employers continue to allow workers to operate in extremely unsafe conditions. Despite the regulations and penalties that exist to keep a similar work accident from happening, there are still reports of injuries and deaths by workers in grain bins.

In 2010, two young workers suffocated during a work accident while in a grain bin in Mt. Carrol, Illinois. A third young worker escaped death by mere inches and he is now emotionally scarred for life. The owners of this grain operation knowingly allowed workers to climb into the bin into which the corn was being poured, even though the practice of "walking down grain" is illegal. The surviving worker said that the three boys were unaware of the dangers of the task when they climbed into the giant bin.

Over 26 workers died from similar incidents just in the year 2010. These numbers do not include an undisclosed number of physical and emotional injuries that were inevitably incurred by near fatalities in a work accident. Despite these continuing issues, employers that have been cited for incidents receive the proverbial "slap on the wrist."

There was a financial penalty handed to the employers after the tragic work accident. However, the fine was reduced by over 50 percent. There are activists fighting, because of this case and others, to bring sharper and enduring consequences down on the employers who turn a blind eye to illegal work practices.

Typically, in a work accident like this, workers' compensation is typically paid to both to the surviving victim as well as the families of the deceased. However, a news report did not address any financial compensation to the families of the deceased boys. Those affected may do well to investigate the availability of workers' compensation benefits under Illinois law.

Source: dailyyonder.com, "Buried Alive: Grain Bin Suffocations Persist," Jim Morris and Howard Berkes, March 26, 2013

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ITLA WCLA Illinois State Bar Association
Super Lawyers ABA- American Bar Association The Chicago Bar Association Founded 1874
 Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association Lake County Bar Association Recommended By Peers For Leading Lawyers Network