OSHA Probes Deadly Kansas Grain Elevator Collapse

June 28, 2010

The site of a grain elevator collapse that killed two workers in central Kansas was inspected June 25 by federal safety officials, though authorities have not determined what caused the accident.

Two grain bins collapsed the previous day at the Agco Inc. elevator in Russell while workers were unloading a truck. The accident killed Max Greve, 21, of Hays, and Sean Banks, 19, of Russell. Both were buried by grain when the elevator gave way.

Investigators from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration were gathering information at the site Friday. OSHA’s area director, Judy Freeman, said an initial check of records turned up no complaints or previous accidents at the elevator.

The elevator is located on the north side of Russell, a community of 4,200 people along Interstate 70 about 180 miles west of Topeka.

The bodies of Greve, a Fort Hays State University student from Nebraska, and Banks, a freshman outfielder for the Hutchinson Community College baseball team, were recovered shortly before 5 p.m. on June 24.

Greve was scheduled to be buried in Wakefield, Neb. Funeral plans for Banks were pending.

Dan Bernard, general manager of Agco, issued a statement calling the deaths “a terrible incident.”

“This incident is a tragic loss, and on behalf of the board of directors, management and fellow employees, we extend our sincerest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the Greve and Banks’ families,” Bernard said.

In addition to grain storage, Agco also sells farm supplies.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture is required to inspect the company’s financial records to verify compliance with Kansas grain storage laws, but isn’t required to inspect grain elevators for safety violations, department spokeswoman Lisa Taylor said.

But inspectors do go inside the facilities as part of their duties, she said.

“If they see something, like a loose railing, they will point it out as a courtesy,” Taylor said.

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