New Jersey farm workers may be aware that grain silos can be very hazardous. According to a recently released survey conducted by Purdue University, the number of grain handling fatalities and entrapment cases increased in 2016 over previous years.
Grain entrapment fatalities can occur when a worker is tasked with loosening grain in a silo so that it can flow smoothly. In some cases, the grain could fall on top of the employee and entrap them. The employee could also become engulfed in grain if they fall through the grain’s surface. In 2016, there were 29 entrapment incidents reported. This was a 21 percent increase over 2015. There were 18 deaths caused by entrapment issues in 2016, which was four more than 2015. An additional 22 fatalities were caused by asphyxiation, falls and machinery entanglement in 2016. It was noted, however, that the report numbers could be inaccurate as there is a lack of mandatory reporting for small farms.
OSHA responded to the fatalities by creating regional emphasis programs for commercial operators. However, it has been noted that, since the fatalities most often occur at farms that are exempt, those who need the programs are not getting them.
If an employee suffers a job injury after becoming involved in a grain entrapment incident, they might be eligible to get workers’ compensation benefits from their employer. An attorney may assist with filing the initial claim or help the injured worker file an appeal if their initial claim is denied. The injured employee may be able to seek compensation for any injuries and medical costs caused by the accident.