Contributing Factors to Engulfments in On-Farm Grain Storage Bins Academic Article uri icon


  • Since 1978 Purdue University has maintained a national database of agriculture-related engulfment cases that have occurred in loose agricultural material in both commercial and on-farm facilities. The database presently contains 502 documented cases of fatal and non-fatal engulfments from the U.S. and Canada. A review of the more recent on-farm fatal and non-fatal engulfment cases, those occurring in 1980 through 2001, was conducted in order to characterize engulfments and identify contributing factors that would be relevant to future intervention strategy development including the implementation of design standards for on-farm structures. From 1980 through 2001, 197 cases were identified that occurred in on-farm grain bins, 156 of which were fatal and 41 were non-fatal. A rate of approximately seven fatal and two non-fatal cases per year were identified from 1980 through 2001. The magnitude of the engulfment problem is continuing, based on six and seven fatal cases reported in the years 2000 and 2001, respectively. Sixteen percent of fatal and six percent of non-fatal victims were children and adolescents under the age of 16. Fifty percent of the survivors were 60 years of age or older. Engulfments were generally reported more often in the top corn-producing states and involved corn in 76% of the fatal cases when product was known. Seventy-seven percent of the fatal victims were unloading the bin at the time of engulfment in cases where activity at the time of engulfment was known. Forty-one percent of the fatality cases involved corn that was out-of-condition where the condition of the grain was known. In survival cases where information about the presence of co-workers at the time of engulfment was known, it was found that a co-worker was present at the time of engulfment in 86% of the cases. In four cases, a survivor was rescued from a bin after being completely engulfed in grain. In all four cases, a co-worker was present at the time of engulfment and out-of-condition grain was involved. Findings are being used to design new injury prevention strategies, including educational materials and recommendations for engineering controls that focus on primary causative factors.

author list (cited authors)

  • Kingman, D. M., Deboy, G. R., & Field, W. E.

citation count

  • 4

publication date

  • January 2003