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Summary of Prior Grain Entrapment Rescue Strategies

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. 17(4): 303-325. (doi: 10.13031/2013.39804) @2011
Authors:   M. J. Roberts, G. R. Deboy, W. E. Field, D. E. Maier
Keywords:   Entrapment, Flowable, Grain, Rescue, Suffocation

Entrapment in flowable agricultural material continues to be a relevant problem facing both farmers and employees of commercial grain storage and handling operations. While considerable work has been done previously on the causes of entrapment in grain and possible preventative measures, there is little research on the efficacy of current first response or extrication techniques. With the recent introduction of new grain rescue equipment and training programs, it was determined that the need exists to document and summarize prior grain rescue strategies with a view to develop evidence-based recommendations that would enhance the efficacy of the techniques used and reduce the risks to both victims and first responders. Utilizing the Purdue University Agricultural Entrapment Database, all data were queried for information related to extrication of victims from grain entrapments documented over the period 1964-2006. Also analyzed were data from other sources, including public records related to entrapments and information from onsite investigations. Significant findings of this study include the following: (1) between 1964 and 2006, the number of entrapments averaged 16 per year, with the frequency increasing over the last decade; (2) of all cases documented, about 45% resulted in fatality; (3) no less than 44% of entrapments occurred in shelled corn; (4) fatality was the result in 82% of cases where victims were submerged beneath the grain surface, while fatality occurred in 10% of cases where victims were only partially engulfed; (5) the majority of rescues were reported to have been conducted by untrained personnel who were at the scene at the time of entrapment; and (6) in those cases where the rescue strategies were known, 56% involved cutting or punching holes in the side walls of the storage structure, 19% involved utilizing onsite fabricated grain retaining walls to extricate partially entrapped victims, and the use of grain vacuum machines as a rescue strategy was on the increase. Among the recommendations growing out of the study are these: (1) conduct further tests on the efficacy of grain rescue strategies, including the use of recently introduced grain rescue tubes and grain vacuum machines; (2) incorporate the findings into future first responder training programs; and (3) enhance the first response skills of personnel working at grain storage facilities, both on-farm and at commercial operations.

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