Company fined after Ga. worker suffocated, died trying to unclog grain silo

COLQUIT, Ga. — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined a company that owns and operates a South Georgia grain silo more than $40,000 after an employee’s death.

According to an investigation from OSHA, a Cedar Head, LLC employee went into a bin to “unclog clumps of grain as the bin’s auger turned below. As they stood atop the grain, the pile shifted and quickly engulfed them.”

The news release added, “One other worker onsite rushed over and saw a rope that was tied to the worker disappearing into the grain but could not rescue their co-worker.”

OSHA cited the company for nine violations for “exposing employees to engulfment hazards.”

In a letter dated Aug. 30, OSHA laid out the penalties being brought against the company, fining them more than $40,000 over the incident.

“Our investigation found Cedar Head failed to follow required federal safety standards that might have saved this worker’s life,” OSHA Acting Area Director Heather Sanders, who is based in Savannah, Georgia, said. “Our outreach and enforcement efforts continually stress the importance of making sure employees are trained and that proper procedures are followed when working inside grain bins to prevent tragedies like this one.”

“Moving grain acts like ‘quicksand’ and can bury a worker in seconds,” OSHA’s website says about grain handling. “‘Bridged’ grain and vertical piles of stored grain can also collapse unexpectedly if a worker stands on or near it. The behavior and weight of the grain make it extremely difficult for a worker to get out of it without assistance.”

The Macon Telegraph reached out to Cedar Head, LLC for comment about this incident, but never heard back.

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