OSHA says it won’t issue any citations for the incident that killed two teenage corn detasselers in Illinois last year.
The federal agency says there’s no way the girls’ employers, R&J Enterprises and Monsanto Co., could have known about the hazards in the field in July 2011.
Jade Garza and Hannah Kendall, both 14, were working in a field in Tampico, IL, when they were electrocuted by a pivot irrigator. They were among several teens who came in contact with the electrified irrigator.
A letter from OSHA said lightning striking and damaging a meter box may have caused the electrical system and components of the irrigator system to become energized. OSHA issued recommendations to ensure the electrical system and irrigation equipment is grounded.
Attorneys for the Kendall family called the OSHA decision a travesty of justice and one-sided. The lawyers say their own experts who inspected the field and equipment involved are convinced there were known hazards and the deaths could have been prevented. A PDF of the Kendall family statement can be found here.
The Kendall family has sued R&J and Monsanto.
Detasseling corn is a common summer job for teenagers in farming communities. It involves tearing the tassels off the top of the corn to prepare it for cross-breeding. It’s often considered a rite of passage.