WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA, US — The number of US agricultural confined spaces incidents declined 4.5% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to a report issued by Purdue University’s Department of Agriculture and Biological Engineering.

A total of 64 fatal and non-fatal cases involving agricultural confined spaces were recorded in 2020, which compared with 67 in 2019.

The case types that occurred in 2020 include:

  • Thirty-five grain entrapments
  • Seven falls into or from grain storage structures
  • Four asphyxiations due to deficient oxygen levels or toxic environments
  • Twelve equipment entanglements 

There were no fewer than 35 grain related entrapments in 2020, a 7.9% decrease compared with 2019, with the balance involving entanglements and falls.

Thirty-two of the 64 cases, or 50%, in 2020 were fatal compared to the historically 61%, the report said.

Since 1970 Purdue University’s Department of Agriculture and Biological Engineering has documented and investigated incidents involving grain storage and handling collecting data. In 2013 the department expanded to include incidents involving grain transport vehicles, injuries occurring in confined spaces due to exposure to mechanical components and other types of confined spaces.

Data is collected, documented and entered into the Purdue Agricultural Confined Space Incident Database (PACSID).

At the end of 2020, PACSID counted 2,404 cases documented between 1962 and 2020 that resulted in an injury, fatality or required emergency extrication by first responders. Of the 2,404 cases, 60%, or 1,442 cases, were fatal, with 1,731, or 72%, involving grain storage and handling facilities and grain transport vehicles.