$465,500 in Penalties Issued to Large Grain Storage Company

Gavilon Grain LLC, which is privately held, says it operates 110 grain facilities and 60 feed and food ingredient storage and handling facilities in North America.

OSHA has issued $465,500 in penalties and 46 violations against Omaha, Neb.-based Gavilon Grain LLC, a large and privately held grain and fertilizer storage and handling, transportation, and marketing company, after inspecting its Morral, Ohio, West Jefferson, and Harpster grain bin facilities, the agency announced March 16.

The inspections began after a September 2010 death of a 20-year-old worker caught in a discharge auger while cleaning out a grain bin, according to OSHA, which has issued high penalties in enforcement cases recently against several Midwest grain facilities. OSHA says at least 25 U.S. workers died in grain entrapments last year, with more entrapments occurring in 2010 than in any other year since Purdue University began collecting data on entrapments in 1978.

"This tragic death could have been prevented had the grain bin owner and operators followed occupational safety standards and learned from the tragedies that have occurred at other grain bins," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "Grain elevator owners and operators must implement well-known safety practices to prevent workers from being hurt or killed in a grain bin."

The Morral facility was issued a total of eight safety citations with proposed penalties of $175,000, including two willful citations for allegedly failing to lock out the discharge and sweep auger and to provide an appropriate grain bin entry permit to perform work. Five serious citations were issued for failing to train employees in safety precautions and bin entry procedures, not having an observer during bin entry, failing to have rescue equipment, failing to test the atmosphere in the space to be entered, and failing to have deflagration controls for combustible dust. The West Jefferson facility was fined $171,000 and issued 22 health and safety violations, including two repeat safety violations for allegedly allowing employees to walk working surfaces without proper guarding in place and failing to safeguard employees from electrical hazards such as broken electrical conduits. The Harpster facility was fined $119,500 and cited for 16 safety violations, including one willful violation for allegedly failing to evaluate work spaces to determine whether any of them required confined space entry permits.

Gavilon Grain LLC, which operates as Peavey Co. in Ohio, is a subsidiary of Gavilon Group LLC. Other Gavilon Group facilities in Nebraska and Delaware received citations in 2010 and 2009, respectively, including citations for the grain handling standard, according to OSHA.

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