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Farms See Record Number of Grain Bin Deaths

OSHA has increased inspections
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2011 2:46 PM CST
Farms See Record Number of Grain Bin Deaths
In this Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010, file photo firefighters open the side of a grain bin to rescue a man that was trapped chest-deep in soybeans at Cooperative Plus Inc., in Burlington, Wis.   (AP Photo/Journal Times, Gregory Shaver, File)

Grain bins are innocuous-seeming, necessary parts of big agriculture—but they're proving deadly for a record number of farm workers, and OSHA is taking notice. A worker trying to clear damp clots of corn or soy beans can quickly find himself in a sinkhole, his chest compressed by hundreds of pounds of pressure—"essentially drowned in corn," the Chicago Tribune reports.

Last year, a record 51 workers were engulfed by grain in workplace accidents, according to Purdue University, and 26 of them lost their lives. The accidents are largely preventable, but safety precautions such as harnesses often get overlooked. Federal safety officials, meanwhile, have stepped up inspections following the deaths of two teens on an Illinois farm. (More OSHA stories.)

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