Grain Elevator Explosion Kills Six Workers

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Workers’ Compensation on Friday, November 4, 2011

Six men died in a grain elevator blast on Oct. 29 in Atchison, Kansas. Their deaths were a result of fatal work injuries. Two other employees were seriously injured in the incident.

The Bartlett Grain Co. owns the elevator, a large concrete silo used for storing grain. During harvest time, farmers take their crops to grain elevators to store them until they are sold. Grain dust is highly combustible and explosions occur often, especially at the end of harvest season. Dry weather can increase the likelihood of an explosion occurring.

The Atchison blast sent a fireball into the sky, ripped a gigantic hole in the side of a concrete silo and tore a section off the grain distribution building above the elevator. Four of the men who died worked for Bartlett. The other two men were state grain inspectors. The four Bartlett employees were all in their early 20s. The bodies of three of the men were found the day after the blast, but it took two days to find the other three victims because unstable concrete and hanging steel beams hindered the search.

The president of Bartlett Grain reported the workers were loading corn on a train when the explosion happened, but said he is not sure what caused it. The company hired an engineer from South Dakota who is an expert in grain elevator blasts to help federal safety inspectors at the Atchison facility.

Grain explosions or fires occurred in five states in 2010. Fortunately, no one was killed in a grain elevator explosion that year.

In the past 40 years, more than 600 grain elevators have exploded. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports such explosions have injured more than 1,000 people and killed more than 250.

Source: USA TODAY, “3 more victims of Kansas grain elevator blast found,” Oct. 31, 2011

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