By ALYSE THOMPSON
CANTON, Mo. -- An area farm cooperative now has equipment available that could save farm workers from grain entrapment, an agricultural hazard that data shows is often fatal.
With a matching-fund donation from CoBank, the Ursa Farmers Cooperative recently purchased a grain rescue tube for $5,000.
Doug Green handles safety and compliance for the co-op, and he said the group will store the device at its Canton office for emergency personnel to use in the event of an entrapment.
"It's a vital piece of equipment for the emergency responders," he said.
The apparatus, manufactured by KC Supply company out of Kansas City, Mo., consists of six aluminum panels that fit together around a victim who still has a portion of his or her body above the grain level. Once in place, crews can work to free the victim without the threat of more grain enveloping him or her. Green added the co-op also has any harnesses and ropes a fire department might need to complete a rescue.
"We've had a lot of concern and people asking about it. Now we have it in place," he said.
On average, between 20 and 30 cases of grain entrapments are reported at facilities across the U.S. each year, according to data compiled by Purdue University's Agricultural Safety & Health Program. About half of them result in death.
More specifically, in 2012 eight of 19 reported cases resulted in death, while the victim died in 11 of 19 cases documented in 2011. From 1964 to 2008, however, 74 percent of victims died in recorded entrapment incidents. Green said those outcomes are what the co-op is trying to help local grain facilities avoid.
"Anything we can do to help that, we're sure going to do it," he said.