OSHA Cites Kansas Grain Cooperative for Exposing Workers to Fall, Grain Dust Hazards

Jan 26, 2016

Credit frontieraginc.com

A Kansas grain cooperative has been fined by the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing safety standards.

OSHA’s Wichita office has proposed a $65,000 fine to northwest Kansas grain cooperative Frontier Ag. According to a press release, federal inspectors found several issues at the cooperative’s Quinter location and was cited for two repeated and three serious safety violations on Jan. 15.

According to the release, the company failed to remove immediately grain dust accumulations greater than one-eighth of an inch and lacked an effective written housekeeping plan to address the accumulation of grain dust. OSHA also found employees exposed to fall hazards because ladder ways and platforms lacked guard railings.

“The grain handling industry is a high-hazard industry where workers can be exposed to numerous serious and life-threatening hazards,” said Judy Freeman, OSHA’s area director in Wichita. “Frontier Ag needs to re-evaluate its housekeeping plan for grain dust removal and make immediate improvements to protect workers on the job.”

Frontier Ag has 32 locations throughout Kansas with its administrative office in Oakley. The company employs about 330 employees, 19 of whom work at the Quinter location.

In 2012, the elevator cooperative had {span}two grain bins collapse at its elevator annex in Oakley.

OSHA officials inspected a number of Kansas grain elevators in 2015, including issuing citations to a handful of facilities. Only one – the Beattie Farmers Union Cooperative Elevator of Waterville – had initial fines of more than $40,000.

The elevator was fined after a 35-year-old employee became entangled in an auger that was inadvertently turned on while he was cleaning out the bin. At the hospital, doctors amputated all the toes on his left foot. The incident happened in 2014, but the elevator was fined last February for several safety violations.

OSHA proposed penalties of $65,900. Those fines were later reduced to about $30,000.