In 2020, there were 64 fatal and nonfatal cases involving agricultural confined spaces, according to the annual 2020 Summary of U.S. Agricultural Confined Space-Related Injuries and Fatalities report from Purdue University’s Agricultural Safety and Health Program.
Of the 64 cases, 35 were grain-related entrapments, seven were falls into or from grain storage structures, four were asphyxiations and 12 were equipment entanglements.
The total number of cases represents a 4.5% decrease from the number documented in 2019, but this year’s total agricultural confined space-related cases exceeds the five-year average and the number of reported mining-related fatalities in 2020.
“As is well documented in past annual summaries, there is a direct correlation between out-of-condition grain and an increased likelihood of worker exposure to entrapment situations,” the report states. “Never enter a grain bin with evidence of crusting on the surface or within the grain mass. If the grain is crusted or the floor outlets are plugged, contact a professional grain salvage service that has the equipment and experience to remove out-of-condition grain.”
Here's a look at other findings:
- The number of grain-related entrapments fell 7.9% from 2019.
- Three incidents involved more than one victim.
- Three incidents involved manure storage pits or lagoons.
- Three female cases were documented in 2020, two of which involved falls from storage structures.
- Illinois reported the most cases in 2020 and the most grain-entrapment cases.
- Six cases in 2020 involved a person younger than 21.
Purdue’s Agricultural Safety and Health Program has monitored grain storage, handling and transport incidents for 40 years using sources including news reports, web searches, personal interviews and voluntary reporting from extension educators and individuals. Despite no comprehensive or mandatory agriculture incident or injury reporting system, the group aims to bring public awareness to agriculture injuries and fatalities to develop safety mitigation strategies.