Every year, grain bin and other confinement space accidents send shockwaves through rural communities.
A report released by Purdue University shows a disturbing trend related of accidents in agricultural confined spaces. Last year saw a roughly 40 percent increase in reported cases, according to the university’s 2022 Summary of U.S. Agricultural Confined Space-Related Injuries and Fatalities.
The Purdue University Agricultural Safety and Health Program releases the report annually, summarizing the frequency and causes of confined space and grain entrapment incidences.
Data collected comes from reported cases, so researchers said that it’s important to note that all numbers are approximate. In 2022, 83 cases involving confined agricultural spaces were reported — 24 were fatal, and 59 were nonfatal. The total incidents represent a 40.7 percent increase over the 59 cases reported in 2021.
Of these confinement accident and death incidences, livestock waste handling facilities, entanglement inside confined spaces, falls from confined space structures, and grain dust explosions or fires were indicated.
In addition to the confinement cases, there were 42 reported grain-related entrapment, representing a 44.8 percent increase over 2021. This year had the highest number of reported grain entrapments over a decade.
“In the summary, an issue we try to point out is the role of out-of-condition grain in grain entrapments,” said Edward Sheldon, research associate with the Agricultural Safety and Health Program. “Many entrapments result from someone entering a bin or structure to break loose clumped, spoiled grain. Keep the grain in good condition to eliminate the need to enter the bin.”
Iowa had the most reported confinement cases (24) and grain entrapment cases (9).
Sheldon said, “As shown in the annual summary, incidents involving confined spaces in agriculture continue to result in a significant number of injuries and fatalities in agricultural workplaces throughout the country.”
While most agriculture employees know that confined spaces such as grain bins, silos, and manure storage facilities can present a hazard, keeping best management practices and training programs updated to keep everyone safe is integral.
Entering a confined space to remove rotted or clumped products can quickly become dangerous. Monitoring conditions and using proper safety gear are essential if these spaces must be entered.
Nationwide initiated its year-round Grain Bin Safety advocacy and education program in 2014 to combat accidents and equip fire departments with the proper safety resources needed to respond to entrapments.