This short presentation describes a preventable workplace incident where two workers in Washington state was injured on the job and is narrated by the L & I safety inspector who conducted the investigation. To view the narration script, click on the button on the lower right corner of the screen. To move between slides, or view a particular slide again, click on the same lower right hand corner button and then click on the back and forward arrows at the bottom of the screen.
Hello, I am Dave Atkinson, a safety compliance officer with the Department of Labor & Industries, Division of Occupational Safety and Health. In 2010, I investigated two incidents where workers were caught in grain bin augers and their lower legs amputated. Grain bin augers are rotating screw-like devices used to move grain around and have tremendous force while rotating. The next slide shows a video clip of a rotating auger.
Grain bins often have two types of grain augers in them Ė a sweep auger which rolls across the floor and moves stored grain to floor openings, and an under-floor auger which moves the grain to the outside of the grain bin.
In the first incident, a worker was working alone inside one of the grain bins in the upper left photo. He was tending to the portable sweep auger shown in the lower right photo. A portable light was used in this dark bin, but it did not provide adequate light to the whole bin.
The worker was manually moving the sweep auger, which was shut down. In the dim light, he stepped backward into a 12-inch unguarded floor opening, called a slide gate, above the rotating floor auger. This slide gate was not properly guarded. Since the floor auger was rotating, it amputated his foot just above the ankle. He managed to hop to the grain bin entrance and call for help to other workers outside the bin. They called 911 and he was transferred to the hospital.
In this second incident, two workers were inside a large crib bin elevator. They were moving a portable sweep auger motor through a narrow passageway between two grain bins. In the process he took the access plate off the floor auger without first turning the auger off. While carrying the motor, The 24-year-old worker slipped sideways into the auger opening. Wheat grain on concrete can be very slick, almost like walking on ball bearings on a hard surface. In this case the auger amputated the young manís leg just below the knee. His coworker quickly shut off the auger and called 911. The young man survived, but is now without his lower right leg. † † †
Grain augers have a high injury potential and across the country have caused more severe accidents per hour of use than any other type of farm equipment. There have been a number of accidents in recent years where farmers or other agricultural workers lost limbs or were killed when they became entangled in either a sweep auger or an under-floor auger. An auger's corkscrew mechanism creates a very efficient shearing action when a person's limb is caught in it. To prevent these types of severe and potentially deadly injuries, it is essential that augers are either completely guarded or enclosed, or shut down and locked out while anyone is working around them. In both cases, the employers were cited for not for not guarding the augers and implementing lockout/tagout procedures. Let's keep Washington Safe and Working by always making sure grain augers are both appropriately guarded and locked out before doing any work on or around them.