Half of confined-space ag incidents last year were fatal

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

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West Lafayette, IN — At least 64 incidents involving confined spaces in the agriculture industry were documented in 2020, and half were fatal, according to an annual report recently released by Purdue University.

The 32 deaths are more than confined space fatalities reported in the mining industry (29) last year. Of the agricultural deaths, 20 involved grain entrapment. Falls, entanglement in grain-handling equipment and asphyxiation/poisoning each contributed to three deaths, while the causes of the three remaining cases were classified as “other.”

The university’s agricultural and biological engineering department has investigated and documented incidents involving grain storage and handling facilities since the 1970s. According to its records, around 60% of incidents involving agricultural confined spaces have resulted in a fatality.

The report, citing a 2013 study, notes that because many agricultural facilities aren’t covered by OSHA injury and illness reporting requirements, around 30% of cases go unreported or undocumented.

“The number of documented fatal cases continues to be higher than the number of nonfatal cases for all confined space incidents, further suggesting an underreporting of nonfatal incidents,” the report states.

Illinois, with 17, led all states with the most documented cases of agricultural confined space incidents – nonfatal and fatal. Next were Minnesota and North Dakota, each with seven.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

National grain safety week set for March 29-April 2

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.
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Photo: Stand Up 4 Grain Safety Week

Washington — OSHA and its Alliance Program partners in the agriculture industry are hosting the fifth annual Stand Up 4 Grain Safety Week – slated for March 29-April 2.

The industrywide initiative aims to raise awareness of hazards related to grain handling and storage by providing employers and workers with educational opportunities, resources and training on best safety practices. Employers are encouraged to designate a coordinator for their individual events, decide what type of event to conduct, determine the best time and length, choose who should be involved, and promote the event internally and externally.

The types of events can include a toolbox talk or companywide safety activities such as discussions on job-specific hazards, developing rescue plans or conducting safety equipment inspections. Group demonstrations of safety procedures and regional half- or full-day seminars with safety or equipment demonstrations also can be planned.

The event’s organizers recommend encouraging all employees to participate. Local producers and Four-H Club or National FFA Organization chapters also can be invited to take part.

The event starts at 10 a.m. Central each day, with a virtual kickoff event scheduled for March 29. Registrants will have free access to virtual training sessions during the rest of the week, each day featuring a different focus and resources:

  • March 30: Near-miss reporting
  • March 31: Impact of quality on safety
  • April 1: Bin safety
  • April 2: Emergency action plans

The organizations in the OSHA Alliance Program that are sponsoring the event are the National Grain and Feed Association, the Grain Handling Safety Coalition, and the Grain Elevator and Processing Society.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Construction, agricultural workers at higher risk of knee osteoarthritis: study

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Photo: kali9/iStockphoto

Sydney — Workers in the construction and agriculture industries face an increased risk of knee osteoarthritis, in part because of the rigorous physical demands of the job, results of a recent study led by researchers at the University of Sydney suggest.

The researchers analyzed 71 studies with more than 950,000 participants to examine relationships between on-the-job exposure, knee osteoarthritis and total knee replacement. Findings show that, compared with occupations that involve low levels of physical activity, agricultural workers are up to 64% more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis, while builders and floor layers are up to 63% more likely to be affected by the condition.

Workers in these sectors who routinely engage in “heavy lifting, frequent climbing, prolonged kneeling, squatting and standing” are especially vulnerable, the researchers noted. Also at increased odds: metal workers, miners, cleaners and service workers.

Noting that knee osteoarthritis is “the most common joint disorder worldwide,” Xia Wang, lead study author and musculoskeletal researcher at the university’s Royal North Shore Hospital, said in a July 8 press release that “tailored preventive strategies need to be implemented early on to adapt the aging workforces in many countries that push for longer employment trajectories.”

The study was published online July 7 in the journal Arthritis Care and Research.