ADRIAN, MISSOURI, US – The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) on June 29 announced that it has cited a Missouri grain company with six serious safety violations and issued a proposed fine of $215,525 stemming from a Dec. 31, 2020, explosion that seriously injured an employee at MFA Enterprises, operating as West Central Agri Services.
The explosion destroyed the main elevator at an Adrian, Missouri grain loading facility and was believed to have stemmed from potential dust ignition sources, OSHA said in a press release.
OSHA’s investigation of the incident found that the company failed to equip bucket elevators with monitoring devices that notify workers when a belt is slipping, potentially causing friction that could ignite grain dust.
OSHA said it also discovered that the company did not update its dust collection system since it was installed in 1974. Additionally, according to the release, MFA was found to have had workers exposed to falls by allowing them to work on top of railcars to open and close hatches without fall protection.
“West Central Agri Services failed to follow industry standards and create company policies for safe grain handling, and needlessly put their own workers in serious danger,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kimberly Stille in Kansas City, Missouri, US. “Grain handling hazards can be avoided by using well-known safety measures that are proven to help prevent workers from being injured or killed.”
In a written statement sent to World Grain, MFA Enterprises said it disputes some of the key facts that support the citations and continues to work with OSHA to resolve the matter.
“We will have an opportunity to present facts and engage with OSHA as both parties work to resolve the citations,” the statement read. “We disagree with the characterization that any non-compliance with the regulations was willful. The citation designated as ‘willful’ represents nearly two-thirds of the published penalties.
“MFA Enterprises has active behavioral-based safety programs in place throughout the company, including the Adrian facility. Safety programs and maintenance are a vital component of MFA Enterprises’ operations at its grain facilities and across the organization. While there has yet to be a final determination of what caused the Dec. 31, 2020, explosion at the West Central grain facility near Adrian, we will be diligent in working with OSHA to resolve the citations.” MFA Inc. is one of the region’s oldest agricultural cooperatives and is comprised of 45,000 farmers in Missouri and nearby states. The company supplies animal feeds, seed, fertilizer and crop products. The co-op also provides its members with agronomy services, animal health products and farm supplies.
According to Sosland Publishing Company’s 2021 Grain & Milling Annual, MFA operates 75 grain storage facilities with a combined licensed storage capacity of 46.4 million bushels, which ranks 38th in North America