Wheat Growers reaches Agreement with OSHA


Wheat Growers has reached a settlement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) involving a December 22, 2009, grain accident at its facility in McLaughlin, SD. Wheat Growers contested the initial judgment and OSHA agreed to reduce the fine by 50 percent, to $812,000, in recognition of the cooperative’s documented safety program that was under way at the time of the accident and its ongoing training, education and community outreach safety programs.

“We lost Steve Lee to a tragic accident, and those who knew and worked with Steve miss him dearly,” said Dale Locken, CEO of Wheat Growers. “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with his family and friends.”

“Wheat Growers had many safety initiatives in place and others under way at the time of the accident,” Locken added. “We’ve continued to improve our safety systems and training in an effort to create the safest work environment possible for our employees and patrons, both at our facilities and in our communities.”

Bill Spreeman, Wheat Growers Vice President of Safety, Environmental and Regulatory Affairs, noted that, “We’ve developed an excellent safety culture at Wheat Growers and believe that OSHA recognized this. For example, the Behaviors Achieving Safety Excellence (BASE) is an ongoing program to continuously improve our safety culture through employee identification and control of hazards.”

Wheat Growers has been conducting ongoing safety educational programs in over 50 counties and communities it serves in North and South Dakota. They include providing Area Safety Specialists, location managers and other location personnel with OSHA, CPR and First Aid training at all locations.

The cooperative purchased and distributed more than 40 grain rescue tubes to local emergency responders with plans to add at least five more. Wheat Growers has also trained local fire departments and first responders in rescue techniques.

Additionally, the cooperative’s highly trained rope and Technical Rescue Teams recently  assisted local emergency first responders at two neighboring grain operations in grain entrapment situations where lives were at risk.

Source: Wheat Growers