By STEVE BINDER
URBANA, Ill. — Safety officials will conduct a daylong grain handling workshop this month at the Ogle County Farm Bureau in central Illinois. Sponsored by the Illinois Grain Handling Safety Coalition, the workshop runs from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 27, but registration is required by this Friday.
The coalition was formed in late 2010 following the grain bin deaths of 14-year-old Wyatt Whitbread and 19-year-old Alex Pacas in Mt. Carroll, and it includes farm groups, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, University of Illinois extension officials, the commercial grain industry and rescue personnel.
Purdue University statistics show about 70 percent of all grain bin engulfments and deaths occur on farms, with the rest on commercial sites. Since 1978, there have been more than 900 engulfments, falls or entrapments in grain handling facilities that lead to deaths or serious injuries, according to Purdue’s Agricultural Confined Spaces database.
One of the most notable Illinois grain tragedies occurred at ConAgra’s flourmill operation in the Mississippi River town of Chester in April 2010, when an elevator exploded and left three men with serious burns. A federal jury earlier this summer awarded them $179 million in compensatory and punitive damages, a decision ConAgra is appealing.
The safety coalition’s workshop will be conducted at the Ogle County Farm Bureau, 421 W. Pines Road, in Oregon, Ill. The cost is $15 per person and $10 for each additional family member.
Robert Aherin, U of I professor of agricultural and biological engineering and extension agricultural safety specialist, will lead the workshop. Topics include entanglement hazards, grain bin entry and safe handling and storage of grain.
For more information or to register, call extension at 815-732-2191 or visit http://web.extension.illinois.edu/bdo