OSHA has ordered a farmer-owned cooperative to increase safety training for grain bin employees and pay a $550,000 fine.
Wisconsin-based Cooperative Plus, Inc., was cited for 14 willful, 23 serious and two other-than-serious safety violations following the Feb. 9, 2010, incident involving employee Phil Adsit. OSHA’s original fine was $721,000. The new amount represents a 24% reduction.
Adsit was trapped in soybeans up to his chest in 25° weather for four hours, but he survived the ordeal.
A longtime employee at the cooperative, Adsit was clearing soybeans from machinery inside a grain bin with another worker when he became trapped.
The OSHA citations were for lack of proper equipment and procedures which exposed workers to being engulfed and suffocated in grain storage bins.
Under the settlement, Cooperative Plus has agreed to:
- schedule rescue drills semiannually
- provide 10 hours of training to new and current employees whose duties expose them to potential hazards, and
- hire at least one independent safety consultant.
The cooperative will also develop and implement a program on how to safely inspect grain and dislodge clumps of grain when emptying storage bins. It will also share the program with the industry, nationwide.
OSHA says at least 26 workers were killed in grain entrapments last year, the highest number since researchers started collecting data in 1978.
Cooperative Plus had a combined owner membership of more than 10,000. It recently merged into Landmark Services Cooperative which has about 25,000 member owners.