DOL Agrees to Settle Bartlett Grain Explosion Case

Bartlett Grain has completed the abatement of several items in the OSHA citations and has agreed to perform additional abatement during the three-year length of the corporate-wide settlement agreement, including implementing additional safeguards, training, and audit procedures at its 20 grain handling facilities in six states.

The U.S. Department of Labor and Bartlett Grain Company, LP have agreed to settle the enforcement case OSHA filed in April 2012 as a result of a dust explosion six months earlier at the company's Atchison, Kansas, grain elevator that killed six workers. OSHA had proposed $406,000 in penalties against Bartlett Grain, which is based in Kansas City, Mo., and another $67,500 in penalties against Kansas Grain Inspection Services Inc., a contractor employed by Bartlett Grain. The settlement agreement says Bartlett Grain has agreed to pay a penalty of $182,000 and to withdraw its appeal of the two OSHA citations filed five years ago.

The grain dust explosion injured other workers at the facility. A federal prosecutor announced in November 2016 that he would not file criminal charges against Bartlett Grain in connection with the explosion; U.S. Attorney Tom Beall in Topeka said in a statement that he had closed his inquiry of the case after finding there was not sufficient evidence to support criminal charges against the owner, The Kansas City Star reported.

Bartlett Grain has completed the abatement of several items in the OSHA citations and has agreed to perform additional abatement during the three-year length of the corporate-wide settlement agreement, including implementing additional safeguards, training, and audit procedures at its 20 grain handling facilities in six states, DOL announced.

"By agreeing to the terms of this settlement, Bartlett Grain Company has made a commitment to invest in its employees and work with OSHA to follow best practices, and make significant changes at its facilities nationwide," said OSHA Regional Administrator Kimberly Stille. "OSHA will ensure that Bartlett Grain implements its commitment to improve safety for all of its employees under this agreement."

DOL reported that the agreement requires Bartlett to review its safety and health management system and consult with industry experts to conduct a detailed audit of the system’s effectiveness, and that Bartlett will give its safety manager authority to stop unsafe operations; obtain a qualified third-party to review new installations or material modifications to dust filter collectors and grain stream processing equipment; update its housekeeping and preventative maintenance programs; enhance its training procedures; and report to OSHA on a quarterly basis throughout the term of the agreement.

The company has agreed to work with OSHA, the independent Grain Elevator and Processing Society, and the National Grain Feed Association to educate employees on hazards and share best practices for employee training and education, and the company will supplement its annual employee grain training with outreach and training on grain engulfment and rescue to first responders and community members, including independent farmers, following any grain engulfment incidents within a 60-mile radius of any of its facilities for a period of three years. Bartlett also will acquire and maintain grain bin rescue tubes at all locations, will install and require the use of fall protection for workers on top of railcars adjacent to or inside a structure and within a loading zone, and will install overhead protection systems at all facilities where grain is loaded onto railcars, DOL said.

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