Agriculture is among the most dangerous industries in America; approximately 167 workers in this field are injured on the job each and every day. Many of these injuries occur in grain handling facilities where extreme caution is necessary but not always followed. If you've been injured in a grain handling facility accident, read on to learn how your employer might be responsible, and what you can do about it.
They Didn't Train You Well Enough
Because of the dangerous nature of grain handling jobs, any employee who will enter grain tanks, silos, or bins must receive annual training on how to perform their tasks safely. Annual training should include information on proper lock and tag-out procedures, the importance of dust removal, methods of dust removal, care and proper use of personal protection equipment, and emergency plan procedures.
Employees who work at a grain handling facility but do not enter tanks, silos, or bins should receive emergency rescue training. Employers should provide additional training if there are changes made at the grain handling facility that require new safety precautions or make old precautions difficult to follow.
If you weren't trained properly for your job at a grain handling facility and you made an error that led to your injury, your employer could be considered negligent and therefore responsible for your suffering.
They Didn't Hang "No Smoking" Signs
The fine particles of grain that build up in a grain handling facility are extremely combustible; they can cause massive explosions when mixed with oxygen and heat in a confined space. In fact, there are about 10 grain dust explosions reported annually across the United States. In order to prevent explosions, your employer should be doing everything in their power to limit the buildup of dust and the introduction of an ignition source to any dust that does accumulate.
If your employer didn't hang signs up specifically prohibiting smoking in and near the grain handling facility and an explosion caused you to be injured, your employer was negligent in protecting you and should compensate you for your injuries.
Other ways in which your employer may have dropped the ball in protecting you from a grain dust explosion include:
- Not requiring grain dust to be removed from the facility often enough
- Not having a reliable way to remove grain dust from the facility
- Not monitoring the temperature of the grain handling equipment
- Not providing ample ventilation in the facility, thus allowing heat and dust to accumulate
They Didn't Have An Emergency Plan In Place
Sometimes grain handling accidents are unpredictable. Sometimes employers do everything possible to prevent a grain dust explosion or grain entrapment but an incident still occurs. Is your employer at fault for your injuries if the accident you were in couldn't have been prevented?
They likely are if they didn't have a proper emergency action plan in place. An emergency action plan is crucial to the dangerous environment of a grain handling facility. The plan should include the immediate notification of all employees that an emergency is in progress. Employees should be alerted via a distinct, highly audible or visible signal.
Employees should also have access to maps or a floor plan of the facility that highlights the appropriate route to safety. As a final requirement, your employer should have designated a safe area for all employees to meet after escaping the facility and should have a method of verifying that everybody has made it out of the facility after the emergency alarm has been engaged.
The injuries you sustained in your grain handling accident may have not been so serious if your employer was ready to handle an emergency with a proper emergency action plan. If there was no plan in place, or if you weren't briefed on this plan within the past year, there is a good chance that your employer is liable for at least a portion of the damages you sustained.
If you've been injured in an accident at work and you suspect that your employer is partially or totally at fault, contact a personal injury attorney. Your lawyer can help you build a case demonstrating how your employer's negligent behavior and violation of proper safety procedures led to the pain and suffering you're facing today.