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Grain Handler fined $61k by OSHA for Safety Violations

July 26, 2016
Pinto beans. Image by Flickr user dominik18s, used under CC license for commercial use
Pinto beans. Image by Flickr user dominik18s, used under CC license for commercial use

A Nebraska grain handling facility was cited by the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Omaha area office on July 22 for 17 safety and health violations, the agency announced Tuesday.

New Alliance of Bridgeport, NE faces $61,600 in proposed fines after an investigation in February and March of this year, part of OSHA’s Local Emphasis Program for Grain Handling hazards, revealed 16 serious violations and one “other-than-serious” violation.

“OSHA grain handling standards address the numerous safety and life threatening hazards found in grain bins including grain dust explosions, engulfment and entrapment from flowing grain, falls and amputation hazards,” said OHSA’s area director Jeff Funke in a statement. “OSHA’s safety standards protect workers on the job in this hazardous industry.”

The cited company handles and processes Great Northern and Pinto dry edible beans at five locations, including the Bridgeport facility.

The agency’s inspection found:

  • Workers exposed to fall hazards up to 15 feet while accessing the tops of rail cars and from ladder way openings and platforms lacking guardrails and open-sided work platforms.
  • Employees exposed to grain dust explosion hazards. The employer failed to implement housekeeping procedures to prevent grain dust accumulation in priority and non-priority areas.
  • Lack of confined space entry procedures for grain bins including testing the atmosphere, issuing permits, monitoring workers, and training.
  • Equipment was not powered down or locked out to prevent unintentional operation prior to workers entering grain bins
  • Workers were not trained at least annually on safe grain-handling procedures.
  • Equipment and training were not provided for grain rescue operations.
  • Personal protective needs were not evaluated.
  • Lack of occupational noise monitoring program, including audiometric testing, noise monitoring, and fitting and correct use of hearing protection.

New Alliance is a division of Alliance-based Western Cooperative Company known as WESTCO.