OSHA cites Illinois grain bin operator after worker engulfment

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited an Illinois grain bin operator after an employee became trapped in a grain elevator for five hours in February.

OSHA on Wednesday said it cited Martinsville-based Littlejohn Grain Inc. for violating federal grain-handling safety standards by allowing workers to enter grain bins without appropriate protective equipment such as a safety harness or lanyard.

Co-workers and first responders worked for hours to remove hundreds of pounds of soybeans in an attempt to pull the injured employee out of the grain bin during the workplace incident.

Employees were working to unclog soybeans that were stacked as high as 30 feet on the bin’s inside walls at the time of the incident, which took place in the town of Westfield.

OSHA said the company failed to properly train workers on emergency procedures in such situations.

OSHA issued citations for two willful, 10 serious and three other-than-serious violations and proposed penalties of $272,957.

The company has 15 days to contest the citations and proposed fine.

While the employee in the February incident suffered only minor injuries, OSHA inspectors said they discovered a similar July incident led to another worker suffering injuries that required a foot amputation. That incident continues to be investigated.

This article was first published in Insurance Journal.

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