Grain Elevator Hazards Add Up to $229,000 in Fines for Montana Firm

Serious violations involve unguarded platforms, walkways with uncovered holes, improper design of ladders, and a lack of implementation of a housekeeping program for combustible dust.

OSHA has cited Cenex Harvest States Inc., doing business as Central Montana Co-Op in Columbus, Mont., for one willful, three repeat, and nine serious safety and health violations found in the grain elevator areas of the company's facility. The investigation was initiated under OSHA's regional emphasis program targeting grain handling establishments. Proposed fines total $229,000.

The willful violation was cited for failing to test for hazardous atmospheres in permit-required spaces.

The repeat violations involve unguarded pit and floor holes, and unacceptable accumulations of potentially explosive dust. OSHA cited the company in August 2010 at its Courtenay, N.D., location and in February 2011 at its Wolf Point, Mont., location.

The serious violations involve unguarded platforms, walkways with uncovered holes, improper design of ladders, a lack of implementation of a housekeeping program for combustible dust, no communication provided during permit-required confined space entries, a lack of atmospheric monitoring before entering grain storage structures, and improper electrical wiring for high dust areas.

"The hazards associated with grain handling operations are well recognized," said Christine A. Webb, OSHA's area director in Billings. "All employers, especially those engaged in high-hazard activities such as those found in the grain industry, must take the steps necessary to create a safe and healthful workplace."

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