Labor And Industries
8:49 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Wilcox Farms Fined For Serious Violations Long Before Silo Collapse

Wilcox Farms, where a man was buried under tons of corn on Monday when a silo gave way, was cited for six violations last summer that could have put workers in serious danger, according to inspection reports.

But those violations weren’t related to the silo’s structure, said Elaine Fischer, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Labor and Industries.

“These were the kind of violations that were associated with working around silos and confined spaces, as we refer to it, where you might experience oxygen deprivation or toxic gases or being trapped in a pit, for instance, or trapped in a silo,” Fischer said.

The state fined Wilcox Farms $10,000 for those six violations.

Fischer said she is not aware of other times a grain silo has collapsed in Washington. Fault has not been determined – and that state inspectors on the scene are to determine whether blame lies with the manufacturer of the structure instead of the farm.

The man, described as in his 50s and an employee of Wilcox Farms, remains buried and is believed to have died in the collapse. He was doing routine maintenance when the silo collapsed. Emergency responders hope to have the silo stabilized Wednesday so they can recover his body.

Meantime, workers have been reinforcing two damaged silos that threaten to spill their grain at the scene where workers need to dig out the body.

Wilcox Farms produces mostly egg products, such as cage free and organic eggs, and also grass-fed beef. Its products are sold all over the Puget Sound region and in California and Oregon.

The new investigation will take several months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.