WEST LAFAYETTE, IND. — Documented grain entrapments in the United States in 2022 increased by 45% compared to the previous year, according to a recently released report by Purdue University’s Agricultural Safety and Health Program.

The 42 fatal and non-fatal grain entrapment cases last year were up from 29 in 2021 and higher than the five-year average of 35 cases per year, the report said. Nearly 36% of the cases involved a fatality, which was lower than the five-year average.

The report noted that nearly all cases examined in 2022, in which adequate details were available, involved grain that was non-flowing due to spoilage. Contributing factors included attempting to store grain at moisture content levels above 14%, improper in-bin drying practices such as rewetting grain using moist outside air, and leaks in the structure that allowed moisture to have access to dry grain.

“In other words, far more grain-related entrapments could have been prevented (and lives saved) by promoting proper storage techniques than could be achieved with providing training on emergency grain rescue strategies,” the report said.

Most grain entrapment cases (64%) occurred in the Midwest, led by Iowa with 9 cases, Minnesota with 5, and Missouri and Indiana with four cases each.

The report also noted that there were nine grain dust explosions documented in the United States in 2022. Three of those incidents resulted in non-fatal injuries, with one Iowa explosion accounting for 15 injuries. No fatalities due to grain dust explosions were documented in 2022. The 10-year average for injuries is 9.0 and 1.3 for fatalities.

The explosions were in one ethanol plant, two feed mills, two grain elevators, two rice mills, and two grain processing plants. Dust explosions occurred in seven different states: two each in Arkansas and Louisiana, and one each in New Mexico, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, and Ohio.