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Grain handler workshop to demo K 12 rescue tool

Training offers latest in OSHA regulation regarding grain handler safety.
South Texas farmers to get demo of K 12 grain-handler rescue tool at conference

Grain elevator accidents are no laughing matter. Many end in tragedy and all of them are serious and potentially deadly. And while care and caution are of utmost concern to elevator operators and farmers and safety is a high priority, grain accidents happen every year, often ending in tragedy.

On April 16, 2018, grain handlers, farmers and farm workers of the larger Coastal Bend area will gather at the San Patricio County Fairgrounds-Civic Center in Sinton for a one-day conference to review the latest safety standards and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules concerning grain handler safety.

The South Texas Grain Storage and Handler's Safety Conference is an annual event staged by a coalition of organizations including Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Nueces, San Patricio and Refugio County Farm Bureau, Woodsboro Farmer's Coop, South Texas County Elevators Association, Planter's Coop, and Driscoll Grain.

Organizers of the event remind us each year that tragedy strikes the industry when grain and elevator-related mishaps occur, trapping workers in a silo – a serious and life-threatening event. Knowing and understanding the dangers, recognizing early warning signs, being prepared for grain-related accidents, and having the right plan, skills and equipment to respond to an emergency are all critical in minimizing loss of human life.

Despite safety awareness and campaigns to promote elevator safety, accidents happen and lives are lost every year.  A grain entrapment is defined as when a victim is buried in grain beyond self-extraction. In a grain engulfment incident, the victim is entirely covered beneath grain. According to OSHA numbers, about half of all grain entrapments lead to engulfments before rescue attempts, and almost all are fatal.

Not all grain elevator-related accidents and deaths are caused by entrapment in grain. Some are caused by electrocution, falls, accidents related to machinery, and even asphyxiation. But the largest number by far are related to total grain engulfment.

In the U.S., 23 grain entrapment incidents were reported in 2017, while in 2016 that number was 29, of which 18 resulted in death. There were 24 grain entrapment incidents reported in 2015, 14 of which resulted in human loss. The highest number of entrapment incidents in recent years was in 2010 when 59 incidents were reported and 31 deaths resulted.

When other causes of death are considered, 2016 proved to be a costly year when an estimated 22 additional deaths occurred related to other types of causes in a grain environment, bringing the year's total deaths to 40. (Sources: USDA-OSHA, Purdue University study)

The total number of grain-related injuries or death is probably greater. OSHA is only notified of grain-related accidents at commercial grain-handling facilities. An unknown number of incidents occur at small farms, and incidents at even large grain-handling facilities are not reported if hospitalization was not required.

At the upcoming South Texas Grain Storage and Handler's Safety Conference in Sinton, OSHA Compliance Assistance Specialist Marianne McGee of Corpus Christi will open the event at 9 a.m. with the latest updates in OSHA rules for grain handlers. The conference/workshop will also address pre and post fill fumigation of bins.

Following lunch at the nearby Butter Churn Restaurant in Sinton, a round-table discussion will be held to discuss overall facility safety, followed by a demonstration of the K-12 Rescue tool designed to cut into steel and concrete bins. Methods of retraction will also be discussed as well as machine safety equipment standards and reliability.

Those in attendance at the event can also opt to attend a CPR workshop for CEU credits awarded for completion following the afternoon conference session.

The cost of the conference is $20, which includes lunch, payable at the door and $27 for CPR certification (limited to 20 participants). Registration on-site begins at 8:30 a.m. For more information, contact Candace Moeller, Refugio County CEA at 361-526-2825 or Jason Ott, Nuecess County CEA at 361-767-5223.

TAGS: Farm Life
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