KANSAS GRAIN ELEVATORS: A DEADLY PLACE TO WORK
The school year is winding down and summer break will soon arrive. For some, this is a perfect time to relax with family and friends. For others, it is an opportunity to make some extra money. The search for summer employment for high school and college students can be dramatically different, depending on location. Specifically, for students that live in urban areas, jobs are often more easily found at restaurants, swimming pools and shopping centers. For students that live in rural areas, jobs are sometimes found at farms where they can work in grain elevators. Not only is the work physically demanding, requiring workers to endure the heat and humidity, but it can quickly turn deadly as well.
In the summer of 2010, a young high school aged boy named Wyatt Whitebread took a job at a grain storage complex in Mount Carroll, Illinois. His job involved climbing into grain elevators to "walk down the grain"-a task that involved breaking up the masses of corn kernels or other grains that would cling to the walls and would block the drainage hole at the bottom. The corn or other grain typically clumps when the moisture levels in the elevator become too high.
After only two weeks on the job, the young employee and two other young, unexperienced workmates encountered a problem in the grain elevator. After a few hours of successfully shoveling corn, Wyatt began to sink. His two workmates jumped into to try to save Wyatt. When the workmates realized there were unable to save Wyatt with their own efforts-one jumped out and went for help. Within a matter of seconds Wyatt was buried alive and the other workmate perished as well.
Death from grain burial is fairly quick. In other words, it takes only seconds for the person to sink beneath the surface of grain. Suffocation occurs minutes later-as the pressure of the grain prevents the individual's diaphragm from contracting.
In the last 30 years, over 680 Kansans have perished in work-related deaths. Close to 10% have died as the result of work in grain elevators, 48 of whom died in accidents similar to Wyatt's accident. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations prohibit the practice of "walking down the grain" in most large commercial facilities, but the regulations do not apply to most small family farms. Working in a grain elevator is considered one of the most dangerous jobs in all of Kansas.
If your loved one was personally injured or killed as the result of a tragic accident, you are entitled to answers. I invite you to contact my office today to schedule a free and completely confidential consultation. You can trust the Hyland Law Offices to fight for justice and obtain the compensation your family deserves.