Worker Loses Toes Due to Cooperative's Safety Violations: OSHA

The Beattie Farmers Union Cooperative Association faces $65,900 in fines

An OSHA investigation found that Beattie Farmers Union Cooperative in Waterville, Kansas, failed to place locking devices on augers to prevent them from being turn on while workers were in a grain bin, leading to one employee's injuries that resulted in the amputation of all of the toes on his left foot. OSHA cited the organization for one willful, one repeat, and three serious safety and health violations and proposed $65,900 in fines.

"Beattie knows how to protect its workers but failed to do so, and because of their negligence, this worker lost all the toes on his left foot," said Judy Freeman, OSHA's area director in Wichita. "Workers in the grain handling industry are regularly exposed to danger -- from engulfment to dangerous equipment to potential explosions from grain dust accumulation. Industry leaders must ensure their workers are trained on all necessary precautions to avoid these hazards."

According to its news release, OSHA's inspection found that Beattie employees were simultaneously cleaning out two steel grain bins in preparation for the fall harvest. The auger for one bin was turned on while the worker who was injured was inside cleaning out grain. The company willfully exposed the worker to caught-in and amputation hazards by failing to prevent the auger's unexpected start-up. The employee has not been able to return to work since the incident.

Workers were also exposed to fall hazards because ladder floor openings were not protected with guardrails and hatch covers. Additionally, poor housekeeping practices allowed grain dust to accumulate, exposing workers to explosion hazards.

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