December 01, 2019

Grain entrapment

by Rebecca Sherratt, Features Editor, Milling and Grain

In this issue of Milling and Grain magazine we are very lucky to feature both a Guest Editor column as well as an interview with Mr Samuel Goldberg, Producer of the film ‘SILO: Edge of the Real World’.
Mr Goldberg’s film depicts the tale of Adam Fox and Clay Althoff who are both deeply affected by the death of a fellow community member via grain entrapment. The film delves into the often-overlooked dangers of the agriculture industry and thoughtfully considers both the risks and rewards of farming.

Grain entrapment is a danger that not only affects farmers, but people from all walks of life and so it is a surprise that the danger is not more widely discussed, especially in rural communities.

Grain entrapment takes place when an individual becomes sunken in unstable grain that collapses in on itself, trapping the individual inside. Once the victim is completely buried under the grain, it becomes grain engulfment, often resulting in death from asphyxiation.

The suction-like quality of the grain in a silo causes grain entrapment and engulfment to take place terrifyingly quickly. Human bodies take mere seconds to sink within grain and then only minutes before their bodies are completely submerged.

Bodies often take several hours to then recover, once the person engulfed is discovered to be missing. Entrapment often takes place in silos or grain elevators but can also take place almost anywhere where large bulks of raw materials are stored.

Statistics and prevention
Purdue University conducted a study in 2011 and its National Agricultural Confined Space Incident Database documented an alarming 900 reported entrapments since 1964. When searching these reported incidents for patterns, Purdue University discovered that the most common raw material wherein entrapment most often occurs is corn. As a result of this, the most incidents take place in states in America known for their corn production such as Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio and Indiana.

Despite various regulations being put into place that are aimed to prevent grain entrapment incidents, deaths from engulfment reached an all-time annual high in 2010 with a reported 26 deaths. From 2009 to 2010 there was a 34 percent increase in cases of entrapment.

Over 70 percent of modern-day grain engulfment victims are minors working on farms. Smaller farms are exempt from the vast majority of federal labour regulations, thereby children working for parents often are not granted the same safety laws as those in larger farms, wherein those under 16 years of age are not permitted to enter confined spaces.

Read more HERE.

The Global Miller
This blog is maintained by The Global Miller staff and is supported by the magazine Milling and Grain
which is published by Perendale Publishers Limited.

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