Thursday, November 02, 2017

Grain market prices may contribute to rise in grain bin deaths; more probably go unreported

Poor crop prices may increase farmers' risk of dying in grain bins, Dan Miller reports for The Progressive Farmer. "The combination of low grain prices and surplus grain is motivating farmers to store more grain," Nationwide Insurance consultant Paul Stevenson told Miller. "As on-farm storage increases, so does the likelihood of grain going out of condition and farmers entering bins."

Purdue University's 2016 annual report on agricultural confined space-related injuries and fatalities documented 29 grain-bin entrapments (both fatal and nonfatal), which was up from 24 in 2015. But the report says the real figures are probably much higher: "Currently, over two-thirds of grain storage capacity in the U.S. is found on farms that are exempt from the current OSHA injury-reporting requirement standards."
Bars show number of annual grain entrapment cases between 2006 and 2016;
line shows five-year average. click on the graph to enlarge it. (Purdue graphic)
Corn is the most common grain associated with grain-bin entrapment, but it can happen with other grains. Nationwide, as the country's top farm insurer, took steps to mitigate incidents by sponsoring an annual Grain Bin Safety Week, during which it awards grants to local fire departments around the country to buy special grain rescue tubes. "Simply put, we got tired of seeing people die inside of grain bins," Stevenson told Miller.

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