Worker Fatally Engulfed in Lake Preston, South Dakota, Grain Elevator

Prairie Ag Partners is cited for 1 willful, 2 repeat, and 8 serious violations

According to a news release from OSHA, a 51-year-old worker was fatally injured when he became engulfed in flowing grain in a railcar load-out elevator at Prairie Ag Partners in Lake Preston, South Dakota. The incident occurred when the worker attempted to remove a jam from a chute while the auger operated. OSHA has cited the Lake Preston-company for one willful, two repeat and eight serious safety conditions, including grain handling, permit-required confined space and fall protection safety regulations.

An inspection found that Prairie Ag Partners allowed employees inside the grain bin while the auger and conveyer systems operated, despite a comprehensive safety and health program in place that outlined how to keep workers safe in the grain bin.

“A worker can be completely submerged in flowing grain within a matter of seconds. Allowing workers to move grain while machines are operating can cause the worker to become entangled in this dangerous equipment and become submerged. This is what happened in this case, and a worker paid with his life,” said Eric Brooks, OSHA’s area director in Bismarck, in the statement. “If Prairie Ag Partners had followed basic safety standards, this tragic incident could have been prevented.”

The company also failed to complete a confined space entry permit before allowing workers to enter grain bins and to provide fall protection for workers exposed to falls of up to 60 feet while performing work activities around an unguarded floor opening in the main elevator shaft. Additional citations were issued for other violations related to confined space regulations and grain handling standards.

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