Key Findings

  • At least 179 grain entrapment deaths have occurred at U.S. commercial storage sites since 1984, a CPI-NPR analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration data shows.
  • Initial OSHA fines imposed on employers in these cases totaled $9.2 million but were reduced by almost 60 percent, to $3.8 million, the analysis shows.
  • The five largest fines, which ranged from $530,000 to $1.6 million, were cut by 50 to 97 percent.
  • Since 2001, there have been at least 19 fatal and non-fatal grain entrapment incidents that drew “willful” OSHA citations, which trigger consideration of federal criminal charges. Eight of these cases were referred to prosecutors. Three resulted in charges and one is under review.
  • At least 663 people have died in U.S. grain entrapment incidents since 1964, according to Purdue University professor William Field. Another 283 people were engulfed but survived. The worst year for fatal entrapments was 2010, when 26 people died.
  • A re-analysis of entrapment data by Field — based on additional cases found by CPI and NPR — concluded that 52 percent of the 946 entrapments with known locations occurred on farms, most of which aren’t regulated by OSHA, and 48 percent at commercial facilities, which are. Field, whose work is often referenced by OSHA and industry, had previously reported that 70 percent of the incidents occurred on farms.