ADRIAN, MO – On a cold, windy, and out-of-character April afternoon in western Missouri, leaders from several federal and state agencies and organizations, bundled in winter coats, gathered to pledge their dedication to one of the agriculture industry’s deadliest topics.
“Too many workers lose their lives in preventable grain engulfments every year,” said Loren Sweatt, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “According to the latest data available, there were 29 engulfments in 2016. A 21-percent increase from 2015.”
Sweatt was just one of the speakers to address the deadly hazard that farmers and ranchers face on a daily basis. She was joined by other leaders from OSHA, the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the Missouri Department of Labor & Industrial Relations Division of Labor Standards.
The group was gathered to kickoff nationwide “Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention Week” at Schoular Grain in Adrian, Missouri.
Sweatt went on to detail how quickly grain situations can turn deadly.
“Five seconds is all it takes for flowing grain to engulf and trap a worker. Suffication is the leading cause of death in grain storage bins. Based on the average flow rate for grain, a six-foot-tall worker can be covered in 11 second. In less than 60 seconds, some one can be submerged and in serious danger from death from suffication. One minute is all it takes to change everything.”
The business hosting the event, Schoular Grain, was not chosen at random. The company’s Missouri facility is an 11-year-veteran of Missouri’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program, which recognizes companies that have excellent safety and health management systems. Only 31 other businesses in the state belong to the prestigious program.
Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Director Anna Hui officially launched the special focus week in the Show-Me State, reading a proclamation from Missouri Governor Eric Greitens. She added that it’s the leading example of businesses like Schoular Grain that provide the tip of the sword in preventing grain engulfment and in the fight for safer workplaces.
“You are the only grain facility in the State of Missouri, as well, to participate in the state’s SHARP program,” Director Hui said to the Schoular workers attending the ceremony. “So we hope that you’ll be a real example to the community for us and again, a great leader and demonstrator or what safety practices for farms, ranchers and other businesses can really achieve.”
Everyone at the special kickoff ceremony left with the same goal, to make grain bin safety a primary focus for all involved and to make sure every farmer, rancher and grain facility hears the message.
If you’d like to learn more about preventing grain engulfment or setting up a safety program for your farm, visit farmsafety.mo.gov.
Interested in joining the Missouri Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program? Learn more at labor.mo.gov/SHARP.