Skip to comments.Silos Loom as Death Traps on American Farms
Posted on 10/30/2012 3:26:59 AM PDT by DemforBush
STERLING, Mich. Tommy Osier, 18, a popular but indifferent student, was still a year from graduating from high school, and that was no sure thing. Farm work paid him $7.40 an hour, taught him discipline and gave him new skills. He had begun talking about making a life in farming...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Spent my teen years on a farm. We were told that silos were death traps. Much like a loaded gun you had to be careful around them, respect them, or they’ll kill you. Either from falling, entrapment/engulfment, or low oxygen death.
Automobiles and women are also death traps.
I worked on a dairy farm in high school many years ago. When the family bought the farm there was a silo filled with corn silage that had been there several years. We dug it out from the bottom but never went inside to do it. After it was empty we filled it with alphala and my friend (owners son) and I got inside as the alphala was blown in from the top and we used a hose to wet it down, stomp it down and throw rock salt all around. It was itchy work and as soon as we got out we hosed each other down. The old silos, like this one, were higher and thinner than the newer ones. We were always warned that you had to be careful around the silo but usually because of the danger of methane gas if the grain was not packed very tight. That’s why we stomped it.
Besides getting a void inside near the bottom that can collapse, they can also develop a false top dome that is thin, but making one think it is full.....you push on it, step on it and it collapses...dangerous stuff..
Interesting the writer of this article blames Republicans for silo deaths. The rules were relaxed during the Obama admin, but Pubbies are blamed anyway. I’m sure the deaths were caused by Republican congressmen advocating lax standards and more silo deaths. (snort)
“Automobiles and women are also death traps.”
You forgot liquor....and drugs.
The annual number of such accidents rose throughout the past decade, reaching a peak of at least 26 deaths in 2010, before dropping somewhat since.
People die. It's always a tragedy, and it's always something that should be avoided. But it happens. We are trying to live in a world where no one gets sick, no one dies, and no sad events ever occur.
The growth of government is fueled by this mentality. We need pure food and drugs, we need clean water and air. Our workplaces must be safe. Our forests must be protected. And on and on and on.
In one night in Chicago, 26 people can get shot. In one year, 26 people die in farm accidents. I am unwilling to beg government to step in and pass more regulations, or to make teenage labor illegal, or to somehow cripple our farming industry in an effort to prevent death from stalking the land.
This is a big problem here when the cold weather often makes the silage freeze solid part way up the silo, leaving a void in the bottom of the silo. Some of the older silos used to even create a partial vacuum above the silage. I know several people who had close calls when trying to free up frozen silage.
This is something “new” and “unexpected”? My grandfather was a farmer (corn), my mom managed the farm after he passed, I never lived on a farm, but even I grew up knowing they were dangerous - even if I didn’t understand why at the time (I assumed because if you fell from the top it was a long way down).
That said, prayers for the kids’ family. Any death of a child is horrible.
Wetting it down? I don’t understand. When I worked on a farm, we did all we cold do to get alfalfa dry before we stored it, else the moisture helped to create just the right conditions with pressure of the weight, to cause the stored alfalfa to spontaneously combust. I knew of several barns that burned as a result.
Sometimes in more ways than one...
Well said. People want safety guaranteed, and it is impossible to do so. To expect government to do so means huge bureaucracies, costs and other overhead leading to inefficiency.
And people still die and are hurt.
Liberals want to legislate common sense, and it cannot be done.
Best friend in jr. high died in a silo due to poisonous gases from crops, as I recall.
It’s an evil Republican article. Democrats want to “enforce safety laws” around silos and evil Republicans want kids to go into them and die.
Seriously, I’ve never lived in farm areas but my mom grew up there. I remember as a little girl my mom telling me about family members who was crushed or died in silo accidents. They are very dangerous places and I’m from NY and I knew that.
Barring all those stories, did no one ever see “Witness”?
I lost a high school friend in a farm accident. It was a sad thing but no one assigned blame or anything because it was a lapse of common sense on his part and that’s all there was to it.
He died when he crawled under the bucket of a front end loader full of rocks and a hydraulic line chose that moment to give out as they do. We all knew better than to do such a thing but he just had a lapse in judgement and chose the quick and easy way over climbing back up onto the tractor and moving it.
Quite frankly, I'd rather do that 100 times as have to clean out the bottom of the bean bins in the spring. You haven't smelled bad until you've had to go in on that one. Dead and bloated carcass basking in the sun has nothing on rotten soybeans.
Not as many die in silos as die in a small abortion clinic? Wonder what the Commie Times thinks about that?
Pray for America
Public schools are death traps for the youth of this nation in more ways than one. Far more young people die in the public schools or as a result of improper teaching or bad influences from the public schools than EVER died in a silo.
The obvious answer is for the United States to immediately suspend all agricultural activity.
I'm no farmer but it looks to me as if "wetting it down", in addition to the spontaneous combustion possibility you mentioned, it might make conditions right for mold to thrive.
This requires a simple engineering solution, NOT a bunch ignorant regulations.
I lost a friend a couple of years ago to a silo.
Drowned in corn doesn’t sound like a good way to go. He was older, 70 years old, and should have known better.
When your number comes up you answer God’s call.
Love that movie. I think I’ll look on Netflix instant view.
“We are trying to live in a world where no one gets sick, no one dies, and no sad events ever occur.”
Somehow, the US population grew to be more immature over the years. Maybe that’s what happens when society becomes chronically bent towards political correctness.
Farther down it’s just a push for more federal government. People at the NYT, who’ve probably never set foot on a farm much less try to make a living that way, want to dictate to farmers how to farm. Psssssst.
Silos and grain bins and hog pens were off limits on my grandfather’s farm to all of us grand-kids. Those were the rules that were iron-clad.
At what point does the professionl facility decide to implement that simple solution since they probably haven't already?
Merely saying "be careful up there" I spent almost 35 years in a Detroit stamping plant and have seen the results of awful industrial accidents in the press shop. Before OSHA came along, there was nothing to force companies to examine their processes and devise ways to make the work environment safer.
In the end, we had a trained HAZMAT team, a rapid response team, closed space training, and lockout training. All new employees were put thru a day of orientation and safety training.
Did all our OSHA programs eliminate accidents completely? Of course not but the industry was much safer to work in as a result of it.....
Ah, yes, the risk free life.
I think it was because the air couldn’t get to it but I’m certain we sprayed it with water. Thanks for letting me see how to spell alfalfa. It’s been too many years and too early this morning. Regards.
Was always taught to be careful around silos. Climbing them alone was terrifying for me as I have acrophobia, but did it anyway.
And then there are PTO shafts. Yeesh. One of my high school friends was wrapped around one.
Sky-is-falling fear-mongering written by some elitist clown who thinks “silo” is Jennifer Lopez’ sister.
The article refers to the accidents happening in “silos”, but it appears that these accidents in reality happened in grain bins that hold dried grain.
Traditional silos store ensiled fodder for feed—”silage”— that ferments and undergoes anerobic fermentation in order to be preserved from spoiling. The gases released during fermentation can provide deadly results, from both direct poisoning or from the consequenses of becoming overcome/unconscious while climbing into the silo. Traditional silos have hazzards that must be respected.
This story is more about entrapement and suffocation in dried grain stored in grain bins. Farmers are not going to call these structures “silos”, but the Times uses that imprecise term to make this hazzard appear like a greater threat than it actually is. The reporter has thus attempted to include traditional silos storing fermented fodder—that have their own distinctive hazzards—in with grain bins that store dried shelled corn or soybeans or other small grains and have the hazzard of entrapement for an individual that enters.
The idea that a man (boy) must go inside these things to loosen stuck corn/grain is ludicrous. Most farms today have millions of dollars of equipment, yet they store their product in antiquated, dangerous silos.
Some way of vibrating a silo might be a solution. Vibration would settle the grain, shake the stuff off the sides, & safely collapse false domes/bridges. Yeah, it might cost some money, but so do dead workers & over-regulation.
This is America! Fix it!
Living on the south-side of Chicago is a death trap, but the NYT doesn’t cry about that.
” Farmers are not going to call these structures silos, but the Times uses that imprecise term to make this hazzard appear like a greater threat than it actually is.”
There they go again, erring on the side of caution.
The answer to every problem is government when you're the government.
I don’t think we need big government on the farm, but farmers need a healthy lesson in industrial safety. Nearly all farm deaths are really industrial accidents and basic safety precautions could have prevented them. Just from the stories FReepers have mentioned;
1. Suspended load violations.
2. Confined space violations.
3. Material handling violations.
4. Chemical/Hazmat/MSDS violations.
How many deaths caused by printing presses in the United States in 2010? I'll bet on more.... And murders in Chicago - Philly and LA's inner cities? That would be more than 26 in a week... every week - every week for years... No one in flyover needs 'pity' from the hateful New York Times.
To add my own story;
In 1974, a friend lost his father and brother to an ammonia leak. It was a Catholic school, so the entire school walked across the street to the viewing and then we had the funeral during class hours later that day. Very sad times for that family.
Of course, this enters very deep waters.
If a company can make more money through automation, it will develop or purchase equipment that helps them do that.
If a company can increase workplace safety through better equipment, will it make that purchase? Should the government force it to?
The Progressives in the early 20th century got government invovled in business, trying to force companies to treat people better, even at the cost of corporate profits. Ultimately, this is why cars are safer (and more expensive) and why a lot of OTC medications are only available if the pharmacist hands it to you (meth addicts might buy too many if they were just on a shelf). This is why cribs are recalled, why toy chemistry sets are now quite boring, and why you can't buy blood sausage at the supermarket.
This article is an attempt to get government regulations in place, so that farmers are forced to spend extra money on newer, miracle silos. It's not going to help the profit margin of the family farm. It's an extra expense, courtesy of your friendly government.
But, as the Liberals always say: "If it saves one life ..."
The choice is simple: Should government control how private enterprise operates? Business operates on the basis of profit, and so safety is not necessarily their top priority. But that becomes a lever for the Liberals who want to control private production -- they use "safety" as their way into the game.
WOW! I am saddened when I hear of incidents like this happening. Silo/grain elevator work is dangerous.
Used to live in Sterling and went to school with Tommy’s relatives,worked on the farms in the Standish /Sterling area. Silo’s/grain elevators/grain storage are hot, dusty, and many times cause’s one to lose sense of direction.
My sincere heartfelt condolences go out to the Osier family.
Silos do blow up from time to time, too.
So do grain bins.
Methane gas is a problem, but dust is the worst.
In the first pic, it looks like the car crashed over a guy with long hair.
How expensive is a body harness mounted on an electric winch, on which an individual can lower himself down and loosen the contents of the silo from above the stuck pile?
The whole idea of doing that kind of work from below the level of the contents seems very foolish, even stupid.
It's not just silos. I've seen loggers stand on the pile of logs and kick at them to start them rolling. Once in awhile they couldn't get off the pile fast enough. Or air up the old split rims on trucks without a cage. And you thought Oddjobs hat would take your head off, imagine a heavy steel ring doing the same thing.
You were making hay (dried bails of food material) these guys are talking about silage (saurkraut for cattle).
Yes, and after the meaningful changes were implemented, the plant safety crews continued to grow, which required they start inventing problems to solve.