Grain Facility Cited for Workplace Safety Failures Following Dust Explosion

Grain Facility Cited for Workplace Safety Failures Following Dust Explosion

OSHA fines West Central Agri Services for safety violations leaving a worker severely injured.

An explosion that seriously injured an employee at MFA Enterprises Inc., operating as West Central Agri Services, caused the main elevator at an Adrian, MO grain loading facility to get destroyed. This was believed to have stemmed from potential dust ignition sources. OSHA cited the grain-handling facility for one willful and six serious safety violations with proposed penalties of $215,525. OSHA’s investigation of the December 31, 2020 explosion showed that the company failed to equip bucket elevators with monitoring devices that notify workers when a belt is slipping, potentially causing friction that could ignite grain dust.

According to OSHA standards, the devices at grain handling facilities are required to have a storage capacity of more than one million bushels. OSHA also discovered that the company did not update its dust collection system since it was installed in 1974. Additionally, according to a press release, MFA was also found to have had workers exposed to falls by allowing them to work on top of railcars to open and close hatches without fall protection. The company also did not repair an overhead trolley system used for connecting fall protection devices. The press release states that the agency determined the system was out of service when the investigation was conducted and noted violations involving the lack of preventative maintenance and a failure to designate hazardous areas.

“West Central Agri Services failed to follow industry standards and create company policies for safe grain handling, and needlessly put their own workers in serious danger,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kimberly Stille in Kansas City, Missouri. “Grain handling hazards can be avoided by using well-known safety measures that are proven to help prevent workers from being injured or killed.”

MFA Inc., related to MFA enterprises Inc., is one of the region’s oldest agricultural cooperatives and brings together 45,000 farmers in Missouri and nearby states. The company supplies animal feeds, seed, fertilizer and crop products. The co-op also provides its members with agronomy services, animal health products and farm supplies. MFA also publishes “Today’s Farmer,” an industry trade magazine.

OSHA’s Grain-Handling Safety Standard focuses on the grain and feed industries six major hazards: engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, “struck by,” combustible dust explosions and electrocution hazard. Learn more about agriculture industry safety resources here. The collaboration with OSHA, the Grain-Handling Safety Coalition, the Grain Elevator and Processing Society and the National Grain and Feed Association continues to grow. The company has 15 days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before OSHRC.

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