We have followed with great sadness the news of two young ladies from Sterling, Illinois, who were electrocuted while working in a cornfield in Tampico, Illinois, as contract workers for Monsanto Corporation. Reports indicate that the young ladies were removing tassels from corn in a field and came into contact with a field irrigator system or water in which it was sitting. A co-worker reported that the field was flooded and looked like a pond. Water is a good conductor of electricity and any electric energy passing into the water could seriously injure any person in contact with the water. No reports indicate that the young ladies were aware that the water was energized or dangerous.
Monsanto has now removed its workers from the fields per published reports.
While OSHA representatives were on site, the agency reported that its report could take up to six months to complete.
Beyond the deep sympathy we have for the families and friends of the young ladies, we are disappointed that is will take OSHA months in order to get to the bottom of the problem. Prompt legal investigation using skilled work place experts should uncover the root causes of this tragedy and what can be done to prevent events like this in the future. Answers should not wait for OSHA's report.