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Assessing Level of Compliance with Selected OSHA Grain Handling Standards Requirements on a Convenient Sample of Exempt Farms

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

Citation:  2012 Dallas, Texas, July 29 - August 1, 2012  121406107.(doi:10.13031/2013.42219)
Authors:   Pamela S O’Conner, William E Field, Gail Deboy
Keywords:   OSHA compliance, OSHA Grain Handling Facilities Standard, OSHA Permit-Required Confined Spaces Standard, exempt farms, exempt on-farm grain storage facilities

Historically, approximately 70% of grain-related incidents occur on farms with the other 30% occurring at commercial facilities. Enforcement of OSHAs Grain Handling Facilities Standard (1910.272) and Permit-Required Confined Spaces Standard (1910.246) has proven effective in significantly reducing the number of incidents at large commercial storage and processing facilities that are required by law to comply. Exempt from compliance, however, are those storage structures (i.e., grain bins) located on farms and feedlots, where currently about 54% of flowing agricultural material (FAM) is stored and about 70% of the grain handling-related fatalities and injuries occur. The research findings presented attempt to estimate the existing level of compliance of a convenient sample of seven representative currently exempt on-farm grain storage facilities with selected OSHA workplace safety and health standards requirements determined most applicable to such facilities. An assessment tool was developed to gather information on those OSHA requirements judged as reasonable for currently exempt on-farm grain storage facilities. Findings from on-site visits indicated that the seven sample facilities had, in fact, met very few of the reasonable or most applicable requirements contained in the OSHA commercial (i.e., non-exempt) grain handling standards. Although most of the farm owners professed some knowledge of the dangers associated with flowing grain, confined spaces, and bin entry, that knowledge had not led to adherence to requirements now considered basic safe work practices for grain storage handling. The level of compliance with the standards requirements assessed at each on-site storage facility was found to be low or non-existent.

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