ambulanceA 24-year-old newly hired worker suffered multiple fractures when his leg and foot became entangled in a running mechanical auger while in a grain storage bin at Grainco FS Inc. in Newark. OSHA investigated the July 16, 2014, incident and found the company allowed hazards to exist in the grain bin. After identifying three willful and five serious safety violations, the agency proposed penalties of $241,500 and placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

"Sending this man into a grain bin with the auger running exposed him to extremely dangerous hazards," said Nick Walters, OSHA's regional administrator in Chicago. "Grainco is familiar with the precautions necessary to protect its workers, but failed to follow them."

The employee, who had been on the job approximately three months, was also exposed to engulfment hazards from corn stored inside the bin. Additionally, Grainco violated confined space regulations by failing to have an observer monitor the worker while inside the grain bin. A confined space is one large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs, such as a grain bin, but it has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy.

Inspectors also found Grainco failed to train employees on grain bin and confined space hazards and neglected to provide adequate rescue equipment to employees who entered the bin.

In 2010, following the deaths of at least 26 U.S. workers in grain bin entrapments, the highest number on record, OSHA focused its enforcement effort on the grain and feed industry's six major danger areas. These include engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, struck-by, combustible dust and electrocution hazards. OSHA has also published information related to common grain industry hazards and abatement methods, proper bin entry techniques, sweep auger use and many other grain-related topics.

Ottawa-based Grainco operates five grain bin facilities in Illinois. In addition to buying and storing corn and soybeans, the company also distributes seeds, fertilizers and other agricultural products.