Grain News


OSHA Cites Plains Grain After Fatal Fall Injury at Sheldon, ND Facility; Company Placed in Severe Violator Enforcement Program

Date Posted: June 25, 2013

Sheldon, ND—Plains Grain & Agronomy LLC has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for two safety violations after a worker was fatally injured Jan. 18.

While loading railcars at the Sheldon grain elevator, the employee fell about 15 feet and had not used fall protection.

"Allowing workers to load railcars without proper fall protection is inexcusable," said Eric Brooks, OSHA's area director in Bismarck.

"Falls are one of the six major hazards present in grain bin handling facilities.

"Employers have a responsibility to identify the hazards that exist in their facilities and train workers to take precautions to prevent injury."

OSHA cited one willful safety violation for failing to provide and ensure the use of fall protection for workers atop railcars.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

One serious safety violation was cited for failing to protect workers from crushing and or struck-by hazards while using skid steers to move railcars.

An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm can result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

OSHA has proposed fines of $53,900 and placed Plains Grain & Agronomy in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.

OSHA's SVEP focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.

Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.

The company was previously cited at its Marion location when a worker died after being engulfed by grain in April 2006.

Headquartered in Enderlin, Plains Grain & Agronomy operates grain terminals in Marion, Sheldon, Enderlin and Lisbon.

In 2010, following the deaths of at least 26 U.S. workers in grain bin entrapments, the highest number on record, OSHA focused their enforcement efforts on the grain and feed industry's six major danger areas.

These include engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, struck-by, combustible dust and electrocution hazards.

OSHA area offices in 25 states, including North Dakota, have developed a Local Emphasis Program dealing with grain.

OSHA has also published information related to common grain industry hazards and abatement methods, proper bin entry techniques, sweep auger use and many other grain-related topics at www.osha.gov/SLTC/grainhandling/index.html.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Bismarck Area Office at 701-250-4521.

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 ensure these conditions exist for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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