By CELESTE BAUMGARTNER
FAIRFIELD, Ohio — At least three Ohio men have died in silo accidents so far this year – two were farm silos, one an industrial silo.
On Aug. 5, Charles Groh, 72, was found dead inside a corn silo in Fairfield. The primary cause of death was asphyxiation, according to the coroner’s report. Groh was a lifelong farmer, beginning at age 16, the obituary said; he farmed in Butler County, Ohio, and Union County Ind.
Two days later, Tim Taylor of New Carlisle, 39, died after he was buried in more than 8,000 pounds of fly ash inside a silo at Central Ready Mix on Oxford State Road, according to a Journal News report.
Earlier, on May 29, Warren Mumma, a 68-year-old Springfield man, was killed after being crushed by corn in a grain silo, according to WBNS-10 TV in Columbus. Mumma was also a lifelong farmer.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has opened an investigation into the industrial accident, said Rhonda Burke OSHA spokesperson, but in Ohio, farms of fewer than 10 people are not under OSHA’s jurisdiction.
Because of a record number of deaths and injuries in 2010, OSHA worked with agricultural and grain handling industries to find ways to prevent injuries and death, Burke said. OSHA developed a Local Emphasis Program for Grain Handling Facilities focusing on the industries major hazards. These include engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, “struck by,” combustible dust explosions and electrocution hazards.
There are three chief accident prevention tips for grain bins, said Dee Jepson, The Ohio State University’s agricultural safety and health leader:
•Never enter a grain bin alone
•Work with a fall protection harness on
•Never enter a bin without shutting off the augers
“This is what we stress,” she explained. “Until we can get through to family farmers, it is a problem. Farmers are facing increased regulations from all angles, environmental, fertilizer use – they need to be careful.
“The reason that the farm safety regulations are put in place is because they are written in blood – they are based on fatalities and injuries.”
Farmers are safety-conscious, Jepson said. But they are busy, they have things on their mind and they think something will be an “easy fix.” But they need to take the time to walk around and shut off the auger. “You have to keep thinking safety,” she said.