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Minnesota company fined repeatedly for grain dust hazards

A Minnesota based agricultural company has been cited with 19 workplace safety violations, including three repeat violations for failure to test the air quality in work spaces, according to an OSHA report. OSHA reports that the company has repeatedly failed to ensure workers were not exposed to grain dust hazards. The agency is seeking $211,000 in fines. 

The OSHA area director stated he was disappointed to find repeat violations because it indicates the company has said it had corrected the hazards and now they have been found again. 

Fourteen of the alleged violations were classified as serious, which meant there was a substantial probability of worker injury or death. At issue are two high risk factors. The dust in the grain elevators where workers were employed had the potential for explosion, similar and even exceeding the risks involved in coal dust explosions. Furthermore, the failure to test the air quality for hazardous gasses or lack of oxygen represented toxic exposure, which could result in permanent injury or death. 

Prolonged exposure to concentrated amounts of grain dust can result in acute deterioration of pulmonary functions and increased airway reactivity. Research has shown increased local inflammatory responses in grain handlers as well as a progressive loss of lung functions. 

If you have suffered injuries due to prolonged exposure to hazardous conditions, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. It is important that you seek medical attention for your injury and advisable that you talk with a personal injury attorney.

The company you work for may not wish to acknowledge that your injury is the result of repetitive exposure to hazardous conditions, but personal injury attorneys are skilled in investigating these issues. 

Source: CBS Minnesota, “Feds Seek $211K in Fines from Minn. Company,” April 23, 2014

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