How dangerous are grain bins?

As summer comes to a close in Illinois many agricultural workers are gearing up for the busy harvest season. These workers will be responsible for ensuring that crops are properly harvested, stored and transported throughout the state and even the country.

With this important work comes many risks. Agricultural workers are placed in harm’s way in a number of ways. They have to handle dangerous equipment, work in the elements and often use harsh chemicals. One risk that many people may not consider are grain bins.

These large bins store grain and allow it to be pumped out of the bins when necessary. Conditions inside the grain bins can easily cause serious injuries and death. The air quality inside these confined spaces can be quite poor and lead to suffocation risk.

More importantly, however, workers are at risk for engulfment inside the grain bin. The grain can shift quite unexpectedly causing to become like quick sand. Under these conditions, it can take a six-foot-tall worker just 11 seconds to become completely engulfed. Once under the grain, it will be difficult or impossible for workers to breathe. Many workers have lost their lives in these tragic accidents. Young and inexperienced workers are, in particular, at risk in grain bins. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, steps should be taken to keep grain bins safe for workers. Workers should be properly trained and rescue procedures should be in place.

When workers in Illinois are injured or killed on the job they may have legal rights. Even when a job has inherent dangers, like those inside a grain bin, workers should still be kept safe. After a Chicago work-related death, families should know their legal rights. An attorney can give these families specific legal advice.