As farmers race to get the harvest completed, the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health is reminding them to be careful when moving grain. Workers can get trapped and die in grain wagons and there have been two fatal grain bin accidents in the state this year.
The deputy director of the U-I’s Injury Prevention Research Center, John Lundell, says records show many other deaths. He says it’s startling to see that in the last 10 years, 17 workers have died in grain engulfment accidents.
Lundell says many of the accidents happen in bins containing what is called “out of condition” grain. Lundell says the out of condition grain tends to develop voids where it appears the bin is full, but there are large cavities in it. He says a person will be on top of the cavity and it collapses and they become engulfed. Lundell says you need to take precautions while working in any grain bin.
Lundell says you should never work alone so you always have help if a problem develops. He says you should wear a harness if you are going inside a bin, and should check the air quality inside before going in. Lundell says getting engulfed in grain is like drowning in water.
He says quicksand is another analogy, as once you step in, you sink to the bottom and it takes a great deal of force to pull you out once you are engulfed. Lundell says recent trends of storing grain longer have made the problem worse.