Grain Silo Accident Kills Father and Son

Posted by robyn

The tragic deaths of a Wisconsin dairy farmer and his young teenage son in a grain silo reminded the American agriculture community about the common dangers of family farm life. Many hear about machine entanglements or falls as the most frequent injuries. However, research indicates grain silo avalanches, whether inside the silo itself or from a structural collapse, happen almost on a daily basis.

About Grain Silos

Silos teeming with corn, wheat or soybeans become death traps when grain cascades out of control, asphyxiating or crushing their victims. Since 2007, 80 farmworkers have died in silo accidents, 14 were teenage boys. These are horrific deaths, and the rates are rising. A study from Purdue University found that there were 29-grain entrapment cases in 2016. This is a 21% from 2015. It is partly due to the huge amount of corn farmers produce and store in the United States to meet the global demand for food, feed, and ethanol-based fuel.

Plus, the increase in deaths reveal flaws in the enforcement of worker safety laws and weaknesses in rules meant to protect the youngest farmworkers. Nearly 20% of all serious grain bin accidents involve workers under the age of 20.

Grain Silo Accident

The deaths on the Wisconsin dairy farm involved a farmer and his two teenage sons working in the grain silos.  The trio was working to clear off a buildup of silage. The silage is a dense, highly moist fodder used to feed animals that can build up on the walls inside of the silo. During the winter, silage will freeze on the inner walls of a silo. Then, the silage needs a manual cleaning.

There have already been numerous reports of grain silo collapses this year alone. One Ohio incident dumped 200 semi-truck-size loads of grain over a local road. In recent years, the farming industry has tried to exchange tall structures in favor of bunkers with large piles. Risks of caving in and burying farmers still exist.

Along with the avalanches, reports show grain silos also collapse and explode. An explosion causes any gas locked inside the silo to be released. Whether it is an avalanche of grain or an explosion, experts say these usually occur from faulty silo construction from the manufacturer.

Not Your Fault

Remember, you don’t have to use farm equipment negligently for it to malfunction. Grain silo accidents occur because companies don’t design safe machinery.  Manufacturers often fail to warn you of all the ways you can be injured while using these heavy, complex machines.

When farmers are injured by unsafe farm machinery without adequate warnings for secure operation, it is equipment is considered “defective”. This term that applies to poor design, improper manufacturing, negligent marketing, or all three.

Consequently, if you are an injured farm worker, if one of your family members has been injured or died working on a farm, or if you have lost wages due to injury, you may be entitled to compensation.