Pennsylvania farm workers who are required to enter grain silos may be aware of just how dangerous the job can be. The number of grain entrapment cases and fatalities increased in 2016, meaning grain handling continues to be a dangerous job even with OSHA’s regional emphasis programs.
In 2016, there were 29 reported entrapment incidents that resulted in 18 reported deaths. This is an increase from 2015 where there were 24 entrapment cases and 14 fatalities. Even so, the 2016 numbers show a slight decline from the five-year high in 2010 when there were 42 grain-related accidents and 22 fatalities.
It should be noted that the reported numbers do not necessarily represent all of the grain entrapment cases and fatalities that occurred in 2016. Only farms that have more than 10 employees are required to report to OSHA. Further, the OSHA mandate also does not require employers to report incidents that occur if the employee was not hospitalized. OSHA did initiate regional emphasis programs to reduce the number of grain-handling incidents, but these programs are geared towards large commercial operators. The majority of accidents and fatalities occur at farms that are exempt from OSHA mandates.
Farm employees who are injured on the job might be entitled to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Some agricultural employers are exempt from having to carry this type of insurance coverage, so an advisable step for an injured employee after reporting the accident could be to meet with an attorney to see what protections are available.