A study was performed at the request of the Wage and Hour Division of the US Department of Labor to determine whether minors under the age of 18 can safely operate paper balers. Data on injuries and fatalities involving paper balers indicated that serious injury and deaths have occurred when youth have worked in violation of the existing paper baler hazardous order (HO-12). Occupational injury deaths associated with paper balers also occurred in adults. Applicable safety standards were discussed. Site visits were conducted to observe paper baling operations at five different grocery stores in Pennsylvania. A typical vertical baler platen closing motion speed was measured at 1.5 inches per second. The height of a typical loading chamber door was 59 inches, making it an easy reach to the area where the platen moves in a shearing action past the loading chamber door. The engineering analysis cited several factors of concern in scenarios that seem particularly related to protecting 16 to 17 year olds: frequent need to access baler during normal cycle, safety gate interlocks located where they are easily accessible to the operator, and the interlock device being easy to bypass. The investigators recommended that minors under age 18 not be permitted to operate paper balers.
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