Grain Company Fined After Two Teens Lose Legs

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OSHA sites grain companyBy R. DAVID WENDEL — Lax safety precautions at a Kremlin, Okla., grain elevator cost two 17-year-old workers their legs in an August 2011 accident, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA has cited Zaloudek Grain Co. with four serious safety violations following an incident involving two 17-year-olds who both suffered leg amputations after becoming caught in an inadequately guarded conveyor auger while cleaning out a grain storage structure at the company’s Kremlin facility. Proposed penalties total $21,500.

A serious violation is when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

“Employers who endanger the lives and limbs of their workers will be held accountable for putting them at risk,” said John Hermanson, OSHA’s regional administrator in Dallas. “In this case, the lives of two teenagers will never be the same.”

OSHA grain company investigation

OSHA’s investigation found violations including failing to affix or secure the machine guard over the moving conveyor auger, ensure the storage structure’s exit was unobstructed, provide exit signs from the storage structure, and training for workers assigned to enter grain structures.

In a separate safety inspection of the Kremlin facility in September, OSHA’s Oklahoma City office uncovered five additional serious violations. Those violations include failing to provide training on the use of a forklift; develop and implement an emergency action plan and hazard communication program; develop and implement a housekeeping program to reduce the accumulation of combustible dust in grain structures; and ensuring precautions are taken prior to employees entering grain bins.

Zaloudek Grain employs approximately six workers at the Kremlin facility.

OSHA has recently fined grain operators in Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, South Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and Nebraska following preventable fatalities and injuries in grain storage bins. In addition to enforcement actions, OSHA sent a notification letter to more than 13,000 grain elevator operators warning them about proper safety precautions.

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