Grain Bin Deaths – Fines Must be Kept High
This morning, NPR broadcast a story about deaths that occur across the County in grain bins. The details of the working conditions and the description of how workers die in grain bins was extremely unsettling.
As a former farmer, and now a personal injury attorney who still has a passion for agriculture, I believe working on a farm is worthwhile and satisfying work, however, employers must not be allowed to operate dangerous work sites.
NPR reported that employers will send untrained, unprotected workers into huge grain bins with shovels or pick axes to break apart kernels that get hung up on the walls and clog the bottom. Workers can get sucked down into the grain, causing them to essentially drown in corn. Their ears, noses and mouths fill causing an unimaginable, horrific death.
It is being reported that OSHA (the organization intended to protect workers) will cut fines 60% of the time in fatal grain incidents and that criminal prosecutions are very rare.
Employers must be discouraged from not only breaking laws but from further endangering workers. While there are responsible employers out there who put worker safety above all else, for the vast amount who do not, heavy fines and jail time should be a matter of course. Knowingly putting workers into dangerous working conditions is an outrage and should be punished. Heavily. OSHA should not be cutting fines for employers who run dangerous work sites.