A farmer recently died in a tragic accident involving a grain bin, like many that dot the Illinois landscape. The farmer was attempting to move corn through a large storage bin when he lost his footing and fell in. He slipped to the bottom of the bin and it is believed he suffocated under the weight of the corn in the work-related accident.
Accidents like these are sadly common in farming communities found in the Midwest, including Illinois. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that those working on commercial farms wear safety harnesses, but grain bin deaths and accidents still occur. However, OSHA does not have jurisdiction over privately owned and operated farms. The number of deaths from grain-bin suffocation is down from a few years ago, but it is thought that use of safety harnesses on private farms would decrease this number even more.
It is said that falling into a grain storage bin can be likened to falling into quicksand. The weight of the corn can be felt like the weight of earth in a trench collapse. These accidents can very easily be prevented, especially on commercial farms where safety equipment is supposed to be provided.
While working on these types of farms can be done safely, there is still the risk of a work-related accident. Workers' compensation can protect farmers on commercial properties if accidents occur on the job. However, private farmers and their families do not enjoy the same protection from workers' compensation as do commercial farmers.
Source: daytondailynews.com, "Grain bins like quicksand, chief says," Tiffany Y. Latta, May 30, 2013