South Carolina residents who work on farms that have grain silos may be interested to learn that, according to an annual survey from Purdue University, grain entrapment cases and fatalities increased in 2016. Grain entrapment incidents occur when a worker is lowered into a grain silo to knock loose grain. If the grain falls on the workers, they could become entrapped and crushed to death.

In 2016, there were a reported 29 grain entrapment incidents, a 21 percent increase from 2015. There were 18 reported entrapment fatalities in 2016, an increase from 14 in 2015. Purdue also reported that there were an additional 42 grain-related incidents that led to 22 deaths. These incidents involved falls, machinery entanglement and asphyxiation. Although the number of entrapment cases and fatalities increased from the previous year, Purdue stated that the highest number of cases and fatalities occurred in 2010. During that year, there were 59 reported incidents and 31 reported fatalities.

A Purdue researcher warned that the figures may not be accurate. Although large businesses are required to report accidents to OSHA, the mandate does not require small farms that employ 10 or fewer workers. While OSHA has several programs that are designed to emphasize safety, these programs may not reach the small farms as they are not covered by OSHA regulations.

Farm workers who suffer workplace injuries after becoming entrapped in a grain silo may be eligible to seek workers’ compensation benefitsr. If their workers’ compensation claim is denied or the benefits do not fully cover their medical costs, an attorney may help file an appeal.