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OSHA Slams Coop with $215K Fine After Dust Explosion

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The agency said seven citations were issued because the company failed to address potential dust ignition sources and other safety issues.

Agricultural cooperative MFA Enterprises Inc., operating as West Central Agri Services, faces a proposed fine of $215,525 after an investigation into a dust explosion at the firm’s Adrian, MO grain handling facility revealed a number of safety issues. The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued one willful and six serious safety violations following the Dec. 31, 2020 blast.

Investigators found that West Central Agri Services did not equip bucket elevators with monitoring devices that alerted workers when a belt was slipping, which could lead to fiction that can ignite grain dust. The devices are required at grain handling facilities with a storage capacity over 1 million bu. OSHA also determined the facility’s dust collection system had not been updated since the site was opened in 1974.

The agency also observed that the company allowed worked to walk on top of railcars to open and close hatches without fall protection. West Central Agri Services failed to perform repairs on an overhead trolley system used for connecting fall protection devices. The system was determined to be out of service. Citations were issued for lack of preventative maintenance and failure to designate hazardous areas.

“West Central Agri Services failed to follow industry standards and create company policies for safe grain handling, and needlessly put their own workers in serious danger,” OSHA Regional Administrator Kimberly Stille in Kansas City, MO said in a statement. “Grain handling hazards can be avoided by using well-known safety measures that are proven to help workers from being injured or killed.”

MFA Inc., the parent company of MFA Enterprises Inc., is a supplier of animal feed, seed, fertilizer, and crop protection products.

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