OSHA Cites Didion Milling $676K For Workplace Safety Failure In December 2020 Death

(Cambria) The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined Didion Milling for workplace safety failures in the death of an employee in December at their Cambria facility.

A worker who was clearing corn debris from a silo failed to arrive for a regularly scheduled meeting and 911 was called. It took emergency services nine hours to recover the body of the 52-year-old manager, who was found engulfed in the silo. An OSHA investigation determined that the manager entered the grain bin despite recently having an external process underway to remove clogged corn.

OSHA also determined that the external process should have continued for several more days before allowing anyone to enter the grain bin. The agency issued four willful and ten serious safety citations, most involving requirements for safe entry into grain storage structures, and proposed $676,808 in penalties.

“Didion Milling’s failure to learn from recent incidents and follow industry standards and their own company policies cost this worker’s life,” said Acting OSHA Regional Administrator William Donovan in Chicago. “Six of every 10 workers trapped in a grain bin don’t make it out alive. This is a frightening and tragic reality. Safety standards are in place to protect workers from serious and fatal injuries.”

It was late May of 2017 when an explosion at Didion killed five workers and injured as many as 15 others. In October of 2020, a large grain shelf collapsed that nearly engulfed an employee who was cleaning the inside of a grain bin.

Sun Prairie-based Didion Milling has been in operation since 1972. The company operates a corn milling and biofuels facility in Cambria and production facilities in Markesan and Johnson Creek.

OSHA’s Grain-Handling Safety Standard focuses on the grain and feed industry’s six major hazards: engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, “struck by,” combustible dust explosions and electrocution hazard. Learn more about OSHA and agriculture industry safety resources.

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.