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Ohio creates multi-sector alliance on grain-bin safety

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Ohio has long been a state that puts a particularly strong emphasis on grain-bin safety, and now a two-year multi-organization alliance signed in July is reinforcing the importance of awareness and training across the state’s agricultural sector. The alliance will help train workers on the grain industry’s six major hazards: engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, “struck by,” combustible dust explosions and electrocution hazards, and OSHA’s Grain-Handling Safety Standard.

Each year, thousands of farmers are exposed to the life-threatening hazards associated with entering grain bins to remove rotting or clumped grain. In just a few seconds, an adult can sink waist-deep in the quicksand-like suction of flowing grain, rendering them unable to free themselves without help.

Although these hazards are well-known in the industry, they are often underestimated until it’s too late.

“Grain handling can expose workers to serious and life threatening hazards, such as fires and explosions from grain dust accumulation, engulfment in grain bins, and injuries and amputations from grain handling equipment,” said Acting Region Administration William Donovan for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “This alliance aims to provide training and resources to improve workplace safety in this industry.”

OSHA’s Alliance Program enables the agency to develop voluntary, collaborative working relationships with organizations that are committed to workplace safety and health. Through the Alliance Program, OSHA works with organizations such as trade and professional associations, labor unions, educational institutions, community and faith-based groups, and government agencies to share information about OSHA’s initiative and compliance assistance resources with workers and employers, and educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities

In addition to OSHA, the alliance in Ohio includes the Ohio On-Site Consultation Program, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, and the Ohio Agribusiness Association.

According to a statement from the Ohio AgriBusiness Association, an implementation team, composed of representatives of each organization, will meet to develop a plan of action, determine working procedures and identify the roles and responsibilities of the participants. In addition, they will meet up to twice annually to track and share information on activities and results in achieving the alliance’s goals and promote available training by each organization.

Ohio is one of more than a dozen states that formally recognizes awareness efforts such as Grain Bin Safety Week each February, and early this month, there were two Ohio fire departments — Jerome Township Division of Fire in Plain City and Clinton-Warren Joint Fire District in Clarksville — that were selected from over 1,000 national nominations to be awarded grain rescue tubes and training.

“It only takes seconds, or a simple mistake, for an adult to sink in the quicksand-like flow of grain and become fully entrapped or engulfed,” said Brad Liggett, of Nationwide, the company behind the fire-department contest. “Adding to the risk is a lack of rescue equipment available to local fire departments and emergency responders who are called for help when a worker becomes trapped.”

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