Hispanic Scrap Yard Worker Dies When Struck By Material Handler at Metal Recycling Facility—South Carolina
NIOSH FACE Report 2013-01
December 16, 2015
On September 14, 2012, a 47-year-old Hispanic worker died from crushing injuries received when he was struck by a hydraulic material handler. The scrap yard worker was a torcher whose duties were to cut up metal using a torch. The material handler involved in the fatality removed scrap metal off delivery trucks and onto trucks hauling to a metal recycling facility. There were no eye-witnesses to the incident, but it is believed that after directing a truck to the loading area, the torcher paused in front of the right-side track of the parked material handler, possibly for a cigarette break. The material handler operator put the equipment in forward gear. The torcher was caught in the track, knocked to the ground, and run over by the track. He was pronounced dead at the scene from multiple crushing injuries.
Key contributing factors identified in this investigation include:
- Cluttered worksite.
- Worker on foot in the equipment travel path and swing area.
- Operator unable to see worker in the equipment blind area.
NIOSH investigators concluded that, to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should:
- Design work areas to limit hazards to workers on foot and implement procedures to ensure that workers on foot remain clear of moving equipment.
- Consider installing operator assistance devices such as additional mirrors, proximity warning systems, or object detection systems on equipment.
- Implement equipment operating and pre-check (walk-around) procedures to minimize exposure of workers on foot to hazards from equipment blind and swing areas.
- Implement the use of personal protective equipment including high-visibility apparel, hard hats, safety boots, and hearing protection for all workers.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an institute within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. In 1982, NIOSH initiated the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. FACE examines the circumstances of targeted causes of traumatic occupational fatalities so that safety professionals, researchers, employers, trainers, and workers can learn from these incidents. The primary goal of these investigations is for NIOSH to make recommendations to prevent similar occurrences. These NIOSH investigations are intended to reduce or prevent occupational deaths and are completely separate from the rulemaking, enforcement and inspection activities of any other federal or state agency. Under the FACE program, NIOSH investigators interview persons with knowledge of the incident and review available records to develop a description of the conditions and circumstances leading to the deaths in order to provide a context for the agency’s recommendations. The NIOSH summary of these conditions and circumstances in its reports is not intended as a legal statement of facts. This summary, as well as the conclusions and recommendations made by NIOSH, should not be used for the purpose of litigation or the adjudication of any claim. For further information, visit the program website at www.cdc.gov/niosh/face/ or call toll free at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).