OSHA cites Didion Milling over safety after worker death

OSHA cites Didion Milling over safety after worker death

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Didion Milling faces US$677,000 in fines, 14 citations for violations

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued 14 safety citations to a Wisconsin grain facility after the death of a worker in a silo in 2020.

Didion Milling Inc. in Cambria, Wisconsin, was issued four willful and 10 serious safety citations, most involving requirements for safe entry into grain storage structures, and proposed US$676,808 in penalties, OSHA said in a press release.

In December 2020, a 52-year-old worker who was last seen working in or near a grain silo failed to arrive for a regularly scheduled meeting. Employees called 911 when they could not locate the worker or reach him by phone. Emergency crews recovered the worker’s body after nine hours.

An OSHA investigation found that the manager entered the unsafe grain bin despite recently having an external process underway to remove corn from the clogged silo. OSHA also determined that the external process should have continued for several more days before allowing anyone to enter the grain bin.

“Didion Milling’s failure to learn from recent incidents and follow industry standards and their own company policies cost this worker’s life,” said Acting OSHA Regional Administrator William Donovan. “Six of every 10 workers trapped in a grain bin don’t make it out alive. This is a frightening and tragic reality. Safety standards are in place to protect workers from serious and fatal injuries.”

According to OSHA, Didion Milling’s recent history includes a May 2017 explosion that killed five workers and injured as many as 15 others, and a large grain shelf collapse in October 2020 that nearly engulfed an employee who was cleaning the inside of a grain bin.

Sun Prairie, Wisconsin-based Didion Milling has been in operation since 1972. The company operates a corn milling and biofuels facility in Cambria and production facilities in Markesan and Johnson Creek.

In a statement at the time of the most recent incident, Didion Milling said it was assisting authorities in the investigation.