Contributing Causes of Injury or Death in Grain Entrapment, Engulfment, and Extrication

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Issa, Salah
Field, William
Issa, Fadi
Nauman, Eric
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Schwab, Charles
Professor Emeritus
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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Objectives: Grain entrapments and engulfments are one of most common hazards associated with grain storage facilities, with over 1,140 such entrapments/engulfments documented since the 1970s. The objective of the study was to determine the factors that contribute to injury or death in grain entrapment, engulfment, and extrication cases. Methods: A literature review, including data contained in the Purdue Agricultural Confined Spaces Incident Database (PACSID), was conducted to determine the conditions that the body experiences during an entrapment or engulfment in grains and during extrication efforts. Results: Based on the review, the conditions a human body faces during an entrapment, engulfment, or extraction can be split into two broad categories—environmental and physiological/psychological. The environmental factors depend on the grain’s properties, depth of entrapment or engulfment, position of the victim’s body, and characteristics of the storage unit, which include the grain’s lateral pressure, vertical pressure, and weight, as well as friction, oxygen availability and diffusion rate, and grain temperature. The physiological and psychological factors are related to the individual’s age and physical and psychological conditions, and manifest themselves in terms of oxygen consumption, asphyxiation (including aspiration, lack of oxygen, compression or splinting of the thorax), blood flow, and heart rate. Conclusion: Of all the above factors, a review of fatality data contained in the PACSID indicate that aspiration, asphyxiation, grain weight, and lateral pressure are most likely the primary cause of death for most entrapment victims. Research gaps found by this study include an understanding of the impact of lateral pressure on lung expansion and oxygen availability and consumption rate, and the need for more case studies to accurately determine cause of death.


This is the Submitted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis as Issa, Salah Fuad, William E. Field, Charles V. Schwab, Fadi S. Issa, and Eric A. Nauman. "Contributing Causes of Injury or Death in Grain Entrapment, Engulfment, and Extrication." Journal of Agromedicine 22, no. 2 (2017): 159-169. Available online: Posted with permission.

Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2017