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Grain Entrapments, Confined Space Incidents Rise in 2014

May 5, 2015

By Joe Florkowski, managing editor, Powder & Bulk Solids

There were at least 70 confined space-related injuries and fatalities in the U.S. in 2014, up slightly from 2013, according to a new report issued by Purdue University.

Of the 70 confined-space cases documented in 2014, more than half of the injuries and deaths were from grain entrapments, according to the annual Summary of U.S. Agricultural Confined Space-Related Injuries and Fatalities issued by Purdue’s Agriculture Safety and Health Program.

The report found of the 70 incidents that involved injury or death in 2014, 38 were the result of grain entrapments, 12 were from falls, nine were from fires, eight were from entanglements, and three were from asphyxiation/poisoning. The report notes that these are the incidents that were recorded in 2014 and the actual number may change as more information is recorded.

The report can be found at the Agricultural Confined Spaces web site website hosted by Purdue University. The website contains data relating to confined space incidents, but also contains class offerings, FAQs, and instructional materials intended to help employees and employers avoid confined space injuries and fatalities.

In a press release from the school, Bill Field, agricultural health and safety professor at Purdue University, said the slight increase in confined space incidents in 2014 may be related to more grain being stored on farms last year due to record production. "Dealing with a mountain of grain can be very hazardous," Field said. "If you're working around grain for the first time and you might not be aware of the risks involved, the potential for an accident is much higher."

Some other data from the report:

Grain entrapment cases are rising after falling to 21 in 2012; in 2013, 33 grain entrapment cases were reported.

The report found that the five-year average of confined space incidents has risen since 2002. In 2002, the five-year average of confined-space incidents was 36.8 cases and the five-year average for 2014 was 69.4.

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The report cited another study that found that children and teenagers are among those most at risk when it comes to grain entrapments. According to data collected since 1964, those under the age of 20 represented nearly 25% of grain entrapment injuries and deaths.

Since 1964, Indiana has had the most reported cases of grain entrapments with 156, Iowa has had the second-most with 137, and Illinois has had 106 cases.

The report also reflects that not every grain entrapment is listed or can be listed. Many of the farms and facilities responsible for storing grain across the nation are exempt from OSHA requirements for reporting injuries.

Joe Florkowski is the managing editor for Powder & Bulk Solids. He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]

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