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Agribusiness manufacturer cited after worker caught in grain silo

grain silo

An agriculture supplies manufacturer in New York is facing $203,039 in penalties following investigation of a November 2021 incident that nearly killed a worker in a grain silo, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Wednesday.

According to investigators, a supervisor at McDowell and Walker Inc. – a manufacturer and supplier of grains, feeds and other agricultural products – told an untrained employee to enter a grain bin to clear a feed buildup that clogged a silo entry point at the company’s Afton, New York, facility. 

While attempting to clear the buildup, the conveyor transporting the feed into the silo activated, partially engulfing the worker in leftover feed. The employee avoided serious injury with help from a co-worker, according to OSHA. 

An inspection found that McDowell and Walker exposed the employee to engulfment hazards, which are deadly in many cases, by failing to adhere to legally required grain-handling safeguards. The company received two willful, nine serious and three other-than-serious violations of workplace safety standards, and now meets the requirements for OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.