In July of 2010, two grain bin workers tragically lost their lives. The preventable Illinois grain handling accident occurred at Haasbach LLC, located in Mount Carroll. Now, after paying almost $270,000 in fines, the grain operator is closing its doors.
The fatal accident occurred when workers went into the grain bin while the machinery was working to aid in the flow of corn. None of the workers were using life lines or had safety harnesses, and the workers became trapped in 30 feet of corn. Rescuers attempted to free the workers by releasing several thousand pounds of corn through holes they cut in the bin. In the end, two teenage workers suffocated and lost their lives and another was injured.
Unfortunately such accidents are not entirely uncommon in Illinois. Between 1998 and 2008 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported the state had 16 grain bin accident fatalities.
The recent deaths have impacted the grain industry nationally, with OSHA beginning grain bin safety programs in Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio. "We hope that the deaths of these two young men send a profound and unmistakable message throughout the grain industry that loss of life can and must be prevented," explained David Michaels, OSHA assistant secretary of labor.
Hopefully, efforts by OSHA and the grain industry as a whole will increase awareness of the potential for grain handling accidents and encourage operators to take appropriate safety precautions to avoid future accidents and injuries.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, Illinois grain bin operator closes, pays fines after deaths, Associated Press, 6 December 2011