There have been more reported cases of grain entrapments nationwide in the first 10 months of this year than in any year since Purdue University began documenting cases in 1978, said Extension farm safety specialist Bill Field.
According to the 2010 "Year-to-Date Summary of Grain Entrapments in the United States," at least 46 entrapments have occurred this year, eclipsing the previous record of 42 cases for all of 1993. Of the 46 entrapments, 25 have been fatal. Thirty-three have occurred on farms and 13 at commercial grain facilities.
"Because of the poor grain quality issues many farmers faced in 2009, we predicted there would be an increase in the number of engulfments and entrapments," Field said. "There is a close relationship between out-of-condition grain and the increased probability of engulfment incidents."
Because many non-fatal grain-related entrapments go unreported, Field estimates the total number of actual cases could be 20 percent to 30 percent higher nationwide.
"Actual cases likely are higher because of the lack of a comprehensive reporting system and a continued reluctance on the part of some victims and employers to report partial entrapments where extrication was required but no public report was made," he said.
States with the most documented grain entrapments so far this year are Illinois with 10, Minnesota with eight, Iowa with five and Wisconsin with five.
"This geographic distribution parallels the long-term trend for these entrapments to occur primarily in the Corn Belt," Field said.
Field, and agricultural safety and health graduate assistant Steve Riedel compiled the year-to-date summary. A complete summary for 2010 will be available early next year.
Purdue University's Agricultural Safety and Health Program has been documenting grain entrapments since 1978. More than 800 fatal and non-fatal entrapments have been documented and entered into the National Grain Entrapment Database, with the earliest dating to 1964.
For a copy of the current year-to-date report, contact Riedel at 765-494-1210, firstname.lastname@example.org. A graph illustrating the report is available at http://www.ag.purdue.edu/agcomm/Documents/2010_PUCSAID_YTD_Graph.pdf.