TOLEDO, OHIO, U.S. — The Andersons is being cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for grain handling, and walking and working surfaces violations after two employees attempting to clear a clogged floor hole in a grain storage bin became fatally engulfed at the company’s Toledo, Ohio, U.S., facility. OSHA has proposed $291,716 in penalties.

OSHA cited the company for two willful and two serious violations for failing to develop an emergency action plan that included procedures for grain rescue and coordination with local rescue services, and not powering down nor disconnecting grain equipment before employees entered the bin.

“Employers are required to follow safety standards and train their workers on grain storage hazards to prevent tragedies such as this,” said Loren Sweatt, principal deputy assistant secretary for OSHA. “OSHA has free resources available to help employers understand how to comply with safety and health regulations, as well as worker training to recognize hazards and dangerous working conditions.”

OSHA also cited the company for requiring employees to enter grain storage bins on foot with engulfment and avalanche hazards present, and for exposing employees to fall hazards from uncovered floor holes. OSHA placed The Andersons in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

On July 19, 2019, two employees at The Andersons grain storage facility in Toledo, Ohio, U.S., died after becoming entrapped in a grain bin. According to The Blade, Diane Scala-Barnett, Lucas County coroner, determined the deaths of Joshua Stone, 29, and James Heilman, 56, were an accident and both died by suffocation. Barnett believes while breaking up compacted grain the two men hit an air pocket causing the grain to collapse.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

OSHA’s Grain Handling webpage provides resources on recognizing and controlling hazards in the grain industry.