More Grain Entrapment and Engulfment: Hopper Bottoms

Craig Macklin

As further follow-on to my previous post, I wanted to look at a specific subset of Grain Entrapment and Engulfment cases.  As I mentioned, I don’t think industrial vibrators and/or timed knockers are the silver bullet for preventing all cases.  However, I do think they can be effective for preventing bin or hopper entry in a significant amount of cases.  The question is: how many?

Since our vibrators and knockers are most often applied to open or hopper bottom bins and hoppers, I wanted to look there first.  Once again, I need to give a big thank you to NPR’s work on this topic to make mining the data easy.  I knew that their Buried in Grain coverage was documenting all cases at regulated facilities.  Upon turning my search to their work, I also found that I could download the entire data set of 178 cases to Excel.  A quick search of the narrative of all cases for the words “hopper” and “bottom dump” yielded that 16 of 178 cases (9%) were caused by entry into a hopper bottom to help material flow in truck trailers, railcars or stationary hopper bottom bins.

Some of the cases:

“Employee #1, age 17, climbed on top of a rail car of corn after he had opened  its bottom hopper to unload the grain. He was found about one hour later with  his legs hanging from the bottom of the hopper. Employee #1 had fallen into  the rail car and suffocated.”

“Employee #1, 14 years old, was working in a bean hopper and was pulled into  the beans while they were being drawn out the bottom of the hopper. He  suffocated to death.”

“EMPLOYEE #1 ENTERED A HOPPER-BOTTOMED GRAIN BIN FROM A SIDE OPENING TO SWEEP  THE REMAINNG GRAIN THROUGH THE DRAW-OFF OPENING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BIN.  AFTER EMPLOYEE #1 ENTERED THE BIN, HE WAS COVERED BY FLOWING GRAIN AND  SUBSEQUENTLY SUFFOCATED.”

If you are following this topic like I am, I encourage you to also download this data and see what you can find.

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