NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Worker dies from crushing injuries after falling into a baling machine - North Carolina.

Burkhart JE
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 2000-01, 2000 Apr; :1-7
A 24-year-old male baler operator (the victim) died after he fell into a baling machine and was crushed when the machine automatically cycled. The baling machine was used to compact and bale waste cardboard for recycling. Although the fall was unwitnessed, it is believed that the victim may have climbed up the outside of the conveyor to the top of the baler's loading chute to dislodge a cardboard jam. He may have lost his balance and fell 14 feet to the bottom of the baling chamber. Upon hitting the bottom, the victim's body broke the beam of a sensor light which sent a signal to the baler's computer that the hopper was full, triggering the machine to automatically cycle, crushing the victim. At approximately 9:30 a.m. the next day, the victim was discovered by the first-shift baler operator, after he had processed a few bales of cardboard. After noticing what looked like a piece of company uniform sticking out from one of the bales of cardboard, he looked closer and discovered what he thought was a body. The day shift operator then went to the production supervisor's office to report his findings. After calling maintenance, they returned to the baler and after observing what looked like a body, the production supervisor called the police and the Emergency Medical Services (EMS). After the police determined there was no foul play involved, they allowed EMS and representatives from the Medical Examiner's office to remove the body from the bale. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to help prevent similar incidents, employers should: 1) ensure that workers are protected from the unexpected movement of machine parts by implementing and enforcing the use of lockout/tagout procedures; 2) establish written operating procedures for machinery that include training in safe operating practices and a safe method for clearing jams; 3) provide a safe means of access to eliminate the need to climb onto the equipment in the event of jamming; 4) establish a systematic communication procedure by which employees are accounted for during their shift. In addition, manufacturers should evaluate the designs of baling and compaction equipment to eliminate or reduce the likelihood of jammed materials.
Region 4; Traumatic injuries; Accident prevention; Safety education; Safety measures; Safety practices; Machine operation; Machine operators; Training; Equipment design; Equipment operators
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
NIOSH Division
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: June 15, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division