U.S. Department of Labor cites North Dakota grain facility after employee fatality

ARVILLA, ND – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Columbia Grain International (CGI) LLC for willfully exposing workers to grain-handling hazards after the fatal engulfment of an employee at the company’s Arvilla, North Dakota, storage facility. The company faces $190,000 in proposed penalties.

OSHA inspectors determined that CGI failed to follow OSHA standards during grain bin entry and cleaning operations. OSHA issued a willful citation for allowing employees to “walk the grain” and for not preventing contact with operating machine parts by locking out the bin’s conveyor system. Violations related to walking/working surfaces, ladder use, machine guarding, bin entry procedures and bin rescue procedures resulted in serious citations.

“This tragedy could have been prevented if the employer had simply followed well-known safety procedures,” said OSHA Area Director Scott Overson in Bismarck, North Dakota. “Instead, they exposed employees to dangerous hazards that resulted in the loss of life.”

OSHA’s Grain Handling webpage provides resources on recognizing and controlling hazards in the grain industry. OSHA is collaborating with the National Grain and Feed Association, Grain Elevator and Processing Society, American Feed Industry Association, and the Grain Handling Safety Coalition to identify potential hazards at grain, feed and processing facilities through the Stand-Up for Grain Safety Week slated for April 13-20, 2020.

CGI has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.