Missouri Grain Facility Fined $216K for Safety Violations after Dust Explosion

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ADRIAN, MO — Had MFA Enterprises Inc. – operating as West Central Agri Services – addressed potential dust ignition sources, an explosion that seriously injured an employee and caused the destruction of the main elevator at an Adrian grain loading facility might not have happened. OSHA cited the grain-handling facility for one willful and six serious safety violations, and proposed penalties of $215,525.

A U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation of the Dec. 31, 2020, explosion determined that the company failed to equip bucket elevators with monitoring devices that notify workers when a belt is slipping and potentially causing friction that could ignite grain dust. OSHA standards require these devices at grain handling facilities that have a storage capacity of over one million bushels. OSHA also found the company had not updated its dust collection system since its installation in 1974.

Additionally, OSHA found that the company exposed workers to falls by willfully allowing them to walk atop railcars to open and close hatches without fall protection. The company also failed to repair an overhead trolley system used for connecting fall protection devices. The agency determined the system was out of service at the time of its investigation, and noted violations involving lack of preventive maintenance and a failure to designate hazardous areas.

“West Central Agri Services failed to follow industry standards and create company policies for safe grain handling, and needlessly put their own workers in serious danger,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kimberly Stille in Kansas City, Missouri. “Grain handling hazards can be avoided by using well-known safety measures that are proven to help prevent workers from being injured or killed.”

MFA Inc., an entity related to MFA Enterprises Inc., is one of the region’s oldest agricultural cooperatives and brings together 45,000 farmers in Missouri and adjacent states. The company supplies animal feeds, seed, fertilizer and crop protection products. The co-op also provides its members with agronomy services, animal-health products and farm supplies, and publishes “Today’s Farmer,” an industry trade magazine.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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