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Study finds fewer grain bin entrapment incidents

Production agriculture is one of America's most dangerous occupations, and grain bin entrapments are high on the list of dangers. Now, a new Purdue University Extension study finds that the number of confirmed grain bin entrapments and incidents ...

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Production agriculture is one of America’s most dangerous occupations, and grain bin entrapments are high on the list of dangers.

Now, a new Purdue University Extension study finds that the number of confirmed grain bin entrapments and incidents in other confined spaces on U.S. farms fell in 2015 to its lowest level in a decade.

Nationwide, 47 confined space incidents were reported last year, a 34-percent decrease from 2014, when 71 cases were confirmed, according to Purdue’s annual Summary of U.S. Agricultural Confined Space-Related Injuries and Fatalities. It was the fewest number of reported confined space cases since 46 were recorded in 2006.

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The number of fatalities fell from 31 in 2014 to 25 last year, the study says.

But it’s likely many confined space incidents go unreported, Bill Field, a Purdue professor of agricultural safety and health, says in a new release.

There’s no mandatory national reporting system for confined space incidents, he notes.

“Based on prior research through media sources and public safety records, it is estimated that the documented annual cases of agricultural confined space injuries or fatalities represent only about 70 percent of the total incidents that have occurred in the Corn Belt,” Field says. “There has been reluctance on the part of some victims and employers to report nonfatal incidents since doing so could result in work delays or higher insurance costs.”

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According to the report:

  • Grain entrapments were once again the most common type of confined space incident. Entrapments typically happen when a farm worker enters a bin or silo to dislodge clumps of grain during loading or unloading and becomes engulfed when the grain breaks loose, Field says.

  • Last year, 24 entrapments were reported nationwide, including 14 fatalities. There were 38 documented entrapments and 17 deaths in 2014.

  • Entrapments were reported in 13 states last year, mostly in the Midwest. Iowa led the nation with seven incidents. Nebraska had four, North Carolina and Ohio had two each, and single cases were reported in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Connecticut.

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