BERLIN – A local man was seriously injured this week after getting his leg caught in a sweep auger at Perdue’s feed mill in Berlin on Monday afternoon.
Around 2:20 p.m. on Monday, Berlin Police responded to the Perdue Feed Mill on Bryan Ave. for a reported industrial accident. Upon arrival, Berlin Police learned a worker at the plant, James Garrett Ehrisman, 25, of Eden, had gotten his leg caught in a sweep auger in one of the facility’s grain silos. As a result of the accident, Ehrisman’s right leg below the knee was amputated.
Perdue employees provided First Aid to the victim until the Berlin Fire Department arrived on the scene. Ehrisman was extricated from the feed tank and soon after was airlifted by Maryland State Police helicopter Trooper 4 to Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury. His condition is unknown and Perdue officials said yesterday no new information on the victim would be made available for now.
“We also cannot release any information on the status of the young man who was injured unless his family decides that is appropriate,” said Luis Luna, Perdue’s vice president of corporate communications yesterday.
The Maryland Occupational Safety and Health agency is conducting an investigation into the accident and no new information had been provided as of yesterday.
“We have no new information to share at this time,” said Luna. “The investigation into the cause of the accident is still underway.”
Sweep augers are essentially like blades commonly used to sweep grain from the bottom of storage bins or silos such as the Perdue facility in Berlin. Typically, when the grain level inside the bin becomes low and the grain is at floor level, the sweep augers remove as much of the material as possible and carry it toward the center of the bin.
According to industry reports, it is a standard practice for a worker to enter the grain bin, with all of the machinery turned off, to sweep or shovel the remaining grain toward the center to remove it from the bin. When a considerable amount is piled against the auger, the worker would go outside the bin and re-energize the electricity to the auger motor, which would transport the material up and out of the bin. However, it is uncertain if the victim in the Berlin accident on Monday was engaged in a similar practice.