Worker's Injury at Seed Production Company Leads to Seven Violations

Red River Commodities Inc. signed a settlement agreement with OSHA due to an employee’s extensive injuries.

A severe, life-altering injury led a North Dakota seed production company to change its safety procedures in 2020.

OSHA signed a settlement agreement with Red River Commodities Inc. due to an employee suffering multiple lacerations as well as a partial amputation of his leg when it got caught in a grain bin auger last August, according to a press release.

OSHA’s investigation determined the employee slipped into the auger while clearing sunflower seeds from a grain bin. The agency cited the company with seven willful violations: one repeat violation, four serious and two other violations of the industry’s confined space, machine safety and electrical safety regulations. Inspectors found that the company did not sufficiently train workers to recognize hazards and take proper safety measures.

“This tragedy was preventable. Red River Commodities now understands the value of OSHA’s safety requirements and the importance of effective employee training and adherence to safety procedures,” said OSHA Area Director Scott Overson in Bismarck, North Dakota. “Red River officials are now working with OSHA to abate the safety hazards at the Fargo work site and ensure compliance at its facilities nationwide.”

Between 2014 and 2019, OSHA found similar violations in seven out of nine previous inspections. The company paid the penalties, however now, changes were finally made due to the 2020 incident to prevent future injuries. Red River Commodities Inc. produces confectionary sunflower and seeds from other specialty crops such as flax, millet and pumpkin at facilities in North Dakota, Kansas and Texas.The Fargo facility stores, mixes and packages grain products for birdseed.

To raise awareness of the grain-handling industry’s workplace hazards, OSHA is joining with industry leaders and safety professionals nationwide for the 2021 national Stand-Up 4 Grain Safety Week, from March 29 to April 2, 2021.

About the Author

Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.

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