A worker suffocated in a grain silo in Georgia and died after ingesting grain, federal officials say.
Now, the company that operates the silo, Cedar Head LLC, is facing more than $41,000 in fines, according to a recent citation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
McClatchy News could not immediately reach Cedar Head LLC for comment.
In April, a 59-year-old worker at a grain silo in Colquitt, Georgia, entered a half-full silo to try to unlock it, OSHA said in a Sept. 15 news release.
As the worker stood on top of the grain, the mass shifted beneath them, and the worker was engulfed, according to the report.
“One other worker on site rushed over and saw a rope attached to the worker disappear into the grain, but was unable to rescue their co-worker,” officials said in the release.
The worker suffocated in the silo, officials said. After a months-long investigation, OSHA said Cedar Head LLC committed nine serious workplace violations.
The OSHA citation says workers were not properly trained on how to safely enter a bin, the company failed to turn off the rotating auger system before employees entered the bin, oxygen content was not tested prior to entry, and workers were allowed to walk on the bake grain, among other violations.
“Our investigation found that Cedar Head did not follow required federal safety standards that could have saved this worker’s life,” OSHA Acting Area Director Heather Sanders said in the release.
“Our outreach and enforcement efforts continually emphasize the importance of ensuring that employees are trained and that proper procedures are followed when working in grain bins to prevent tragedies like this,” Sanders said.
The steepest fine at $11,162 came from the company’s failure to ensure workers had a harness and lifeline of appropriate length to prevent them from being suffocated, the agency says.
Suffocation is a leading cause of death in grain silos, OSHA says.
“Moving grain acts like ‘quicksand’ and can bury a worker in seconds,” according to OSHA’s grain handling page. “‘Bried’ grain and vertical piles of stored grain can also collapse unexpectedly if a worker is standing on or near it. The behavior and weight of the grain make it extremely difficult for a worker to get out without help.”
Colquitt is located about 210 kilometers southwest of Atlanta.
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