South Dakota has a proud farming tradition, and farmers are used to rolling with both the good times and the bad. Unfortunately, the wet, cold weather we had in 2019 has contributed to already-existing storage problems, and that has led to an increasing number of deaths in grain storage bins.

A recent report indicates that grain entrapments increased 27% between 2018 to 2019. Fatalities associated with entrapment also rose by a whopping 53% during the same period. In 2020, there have already been a couple of incidents, including the death of a 27-year-old farmer in Brookings County.

The weather in 2019 brought a lot more rain than normal to the area, and fall weather seemed to arrive early. That forced many farmers in the area to harvest later and many crops were damp or immature. In many cases, farmers were stuck storing grain in bins that have simply seen better days.

The combination of leaky bins and poor-quality grain creates problems. Grain starts to clump, will form a crust on top or collect on the sides of a bin, which means that emptying them becomes a problem. Farmers can’t get the grain out of their bins without sometimes entering them to break up the blockages — and that’s inherently risky.

Even the government has taken note of the problem. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has sent out warnings asking some commercial grain storage operators to increase their safety measures.

A single foot of grain can exert 300 pounds of pressure on someone’s body and entrapment inside a bin is often fatal. If your loved one is killed working on someone’s farm in a grain bin accident, find out more about your legal right to compensation for your losses.