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Grain entrapment fatalities on the rise

West Virginia employees who work around grain silos may be interested to learn that the number of fatalities and grain entrapment cases have continued to increase. According to an annual survey regarding grain handling accidents, 29 entrapment incidents occurred in 2016, a 21 percent increase from 2015.

Grain entrapment injury accidents often occur when a worker is sent into the silo to knock loose grain that may have become stuck. The grain can fall on top of the worker or actually engulf the employee. OSHA requires workers to be tethered to an escape system and have another worker watching in case an accident does occur. However, smaller farms may not be covered by OSHA due to their size. It was noted that many of the grain entrapment accidents that occurred took place on farms that were exempt from having to comply with OSHA regulations.

It was noted that the annual survey is not necessarily accurate as there is no mandatory reporting requirement. Part of the problem is that, while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires notification of any on-the-job fatalities, small farms, where grain handling accidents are most likely to occur, are exempt.

Farm hands who suffer work injury that could have been avoided may be unable to work for a period of time, preventing them from earning a living wage. If the employee is denied workers' compensation benefits even though the injury occurred at work, an attorney may assist by appearing at a subsequent appeals hearing and advocating on behalf of the injured client.

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Stephen P. New, Attorney at Law
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