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U.S. Department of Labor cites North Dakota grain facility after employee fatality

ARVILLA, N.D. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Columbia Grain International LLC for willfully exposing workers to grain-handling hazards after the fatal engulfment of an employee at the comp...

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ARVILLA, N.D. – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Columbia Grain International LLC for willfully exposing workers to grain-handling hazards after the fatal engulfment of an employee at the company’s Arvilla, N.D., storage facility. The company faces $190,000 in proposed penalties.

Kevin John Anderson, 58, of Aneta, died on July 3 after becoming submerged in corn at Columbia Grain in Arvilla.

Authorities responded to a call of man trapped in a grain bin shortly after 3 p.m. July 3. A news release from the sheriff's office said Anderson was working inside the bin when he became submerged in corn. Rescue workers lost contact with Anderson as they attempted to save him by releasing grain from the bin. After about an hour of searching, Anderson was pulled from the bin at around 5:15 p.m. and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the news release.

OSHA inspectors determined that CGI failed to follow OSHA standards during grain bin entry and cleaning operations. OSHA issued a willful citation for allowing employees to “walk the grain” and for not preventing contact with operating machine parts by locking out the bin’s conveyor system. Violations related to walking/working surfaces, ladder use, machine guarding, bin entry procedures and bin rescue procedures resulted in serious citations.

“This tragedy could have been prevented if the employer had simply followed well-known safety procedures,” said OSHA Area Director Scott Overson in Bismarck, N.D. “Instead, they exposed employees to dangerous hazards that resulted in the loss of life.”

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OSHA’s Grain Handling webpage provides  resources on recognizing and controlling hazards  in the grain industry. OSHA is collaborating with the National Grain and Feed Association, Grain Elevator and Processing Society, American Feed Industry Association, and the Grain Handling Safety Coalition to identify potential hazards at grain, feed and processing facilities through the Stand-Up for Grain Safety Week slated for April 13-20, 2020.

CGI has 15 business days from receipt of the  citations and penalties  to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent  Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission .

Under the  Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 , employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit  https://www.osha.gov .

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