Following 2 fatalities in Russell, KS from a grain elevator collapse, the state’s OSHA office is cracking down on grain-related accidents with a new local emphasis program. According to OHSonline, OSHA said personnel from its Wichita Area Office will examine grain elevators, storage bins; rail cars; milling, fertilizer, feed, chemical, and farm machinery operations; and equipment repair and maintenance, with their inspections including hazard evaluations on fall protection, engulfment, fire, explosions from combustible dust, noise, confined spaces, and machine guarding. Kansas ranks first nationally in flour milling, wheat gluten production, and wheat stored, according to the state’s Department of Agriculture.
“The hazards associated with grain handling operations are well recognized, and allowing workers to enter grain storage facilities without proper equipment, precautions, and training can cost workers their lives,” said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. “OSHA’s Wichita Area Office will devote resources to outreach and enforcement activities in an effort to prevent workplace hazards and save lives.”
This program continues OSHA’s 2010 emphasis on grain operations. Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels sent a letter Aug. 4 reminding grain elevator operators about engulfment hazards.
The risk of a grain-related combustible dust fire or explosion can be greatly reduced with a strong and consistent maintenance plan. OSHA recommends using a properly-equipped industrial vacuum cleaner (certified explosion-proof) to collect accumulations of dust on walls, pipes, and overhead areas. For more information, visit www.explosionproof-vacuum.com.