One of the most dangerous jobs in America is working at a grain elevator, which is a building used to store or process grain and beans. And if you go to work every day in the state of Kansas, the odds that you’ll come home injured – or not at all – are multiplied if you work at one.
Over the course of the past three decades, 680 workers in Kansas have lost their lives on the job, and nearly one in 10 of those died working at a grain elevator. That data comes from statistics provided by OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Of the workers in those “elevator” deaths, 48 died doing what OSHA classifies as “grain and field bean” work. According to OSHA, 21 of the workers were buried under grain, five were crushed by equipment, five died in falls and three were electrocuted.
But it’s the dust, as well as many tons of grain moving daily, that combine to make grain elevators workplaces where even the slightest mistake can result in multiple deaths. Dust explosions or injuries can place workers at risk of asphyxiation, or cause explosions.
According to the report, it’s the fact that grain elevators are an amalgam of electrical contacts, gears and chains and belts that makes them such dangerous structures for workers.
In May of last year, officials in Plymouth County, Iowa, responded to a massive explosion and fire at a grain elevator in the town of Hinton. Quickly, authorities there received a flood of 911 calls about the blast. By the time the local fire chief could reach the scene, the elevator’s control house was entirely engulfed in flames.
The explosion blew out the windows and doors of the building. Two employees working inside at the time were injured. But luckily, other workers pulled the two from beneath piles of rubble before they perished. Both were rushed to a nearby hospital in Sioux City.
Not every occupation carries the same risk as another. Regardless, it’s important to carry a proper amount of life insurance to provide for loved ones in the event of an accident.