Nebraska agriculture company facing $530,000 fine after worker died in grain silo
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – An agriculture company in Roseland is facing a fine of over $530,000 after a worker suffocated in a grain silo last year.
In September, a 34-year-old worker at CHS Agri-Service Center was cleaning out a grain silo when corn “engulfed and asphyxiated him,” the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Friday.
After an investigation, OSHA found that the company “disregarded federal regulations,” which were put in place to prevent similar incidents.
Officials say that the worker’s equipment was “not adequate” for protection against engulfment hazards.
Inspectors determined that the company did not give the employee an adequate body harness and lifeline, which OSHA says could have been used to rescue him.
A retractable lifeline tripod was on-site, but the agency said the device is not designed for entry into the side of a grain silo.
“The dangers of working inside grain bins are well-known and safety standards have been in place for decades. Despite our continued outreach and enforcement activity in this highly hazardous industry, we continue to see preventable fatalities,” said Matthew Thurlby, OSHA area director, in a press release. “Agri-Service Center Roseland should know that safety standards and proper training, procedures, and equipment can make the difference between life and death. Expediency should never be put ahead of worker safety.”
OSHA issued 16 violations, two willful and 14 serious, for several penalties, including allowing workers to enter bins with grain build-up and failing to ensure emergency services were available.
The company now faces $531,268 in fines, according to the press release. The Agri-Service Center was also placed in the agency’s severe violator enforcement program.
Officials say the company now has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference with the agency’s area director or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.