Calling the fatalities “unconscionable,” Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis has announced more than $1.3 million in fines against two companies for three employee deaths in grain elevators.
Haasbach LLC in Mount Carroll, IL, was issued 24 OSHA citations with a total penalty of $555,000 after the deaths of two young workers, 14-year-old Wyatt Whitebread and 19-year-old Alex Pacas in July 2010. A 20-year-old man was also seriously injured when all three became trapped in corn more than 30 feet deep.
The workers were “walking down the corn” to make it flow while machinery used for evacuating the grain was running.
Haasbach was also fined $68,125 under the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor regulations for employing someone less than 18-years-old for a hazardous job that is prohibited by law.
OSHA issued 22 citations to Hillsdale Elevator Co. following the death of 49-year-old Raymond Nowland who was engulfed by corn in a storage bin at the company’s Geneseo, IL, facility. OSHA discovered more violations during an inspection of the company’s Annawan, IL, facility. The fines totaled $729,000.
OSHA has conducted 61 inspections and issued 163 violations to grain operators since a Grain Safety Local Emphasis Program was started in Aug. 2010.
At least 25 workers were killed in grain entrapments last year. That number has been increasing, according to researchers at Purdue University. There were more grain entrapments in 2010 than in any year since Purdue started collecting data in 1978.