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Falls Off of Grain Bins Vs. Grain Bin Entrapment

Recently grain bin entrapment has been at the forefront of Agriculture news, particularly in the United States corn belt where a number of news articles have reported deaths from persons being engulfed in Corn. Sadly, more often than not, grain bin entrapment is usually fatal. Usually, unstable grain or corn collapses suddenly, burying workers who may be within it. This typically results in the person dying of asphyxiation. According to the Canadian Agriculture Safety Association, on average 3 to 4 people die per year from grain bin entrapment. In the United State this number is much higher. A recent study by Perdue University states that in the United States, there were 67 fatal and non-fatal cases involving all types of agricultural confined spaces in 2019. 39 of those cases resulted in a fatality.

In terms of total fatal and non-fatal cases how do falls from Grain bins or silos compare to grain bin entrapment cases?

If one was to Google "grain bin injuries", you will find many new articles on grain bin entrapment and only a handful on grain bin falls  This would lead one to thinking that there are more people being injured or killed from grain bin entrapment than people falling off of grain bins. This is actually far from the truth! Although there are less fatalities from falling from a grain bin or silo, as a whole,  the total number of fatal and non fatal injuries from falling off of a grain bin or silo are statistically much higher than grain bin entrapment. The reason you will not find as many news articles on falls from grain bins or silos is that serious injuries are not reported on near as often as fatalities. Yet falls on a farm are leading cause of worker lost time claims. The below AG Safe Alberta graph below is an example of Alberta worker lost time claims.
A worker or family member who is injured from falling from a grain bin is not only emotionally devastating, it can be financially devastating as well. Consider all the potential costs incurred by a lost time injury on your farm:
  • Incident investigation time
  • Wages paid for time lost
  • Worker overtime
  • Extra leader's time
  • Clerical time
  • Decreased output of injured worker upon return
  • Compensation costs
  • Medical costs
  • Damage to equipment
  • Repair costs
  • Replacement costs
  • Potential fines or lawsuits if safety regulations were not followed or negligence is proven. i.e. not providing proper personal protective equipment.

In conclusion, both potential grain bin entrapment and fall from grain bins should both be taken very seriously.With this said, the most likely incident to occur on your farm is a fall from a grain bin. Please strongly consider installing a grain bin fall protection system on your grain bins for the health and safety of your family, workers and the financial well being of your farm.

News articles from grain bin and silo fall resulting in injury or death:
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