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Mill operator caught in a conveyor discharge hopper and died of mechanical compression asphyxia.

Maryland Division of Labor and Industry
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 96MD029, 1996 Nov; :1-4
On May 25, 1996, a 32-year-old, Mill Operator (the victim) died when he was caught in a conveyor feed hopper, at a gypsum wallboard and plaster manufacturing plant. The victim had used a rubber tired front end loader to fill the raw material bin outside the building where the conveyor was located. Upon the completion of that task, he was assigned to clean up the area near the conveyor line and to monitor the rock flowing from the raw material bin, along the conveyor and into the discharge chute, which feeds a crusher. It is unknown why the victim placed himself near the conveyor while it was operating and no one witnessed the incident. However, it appeared that the victim was attempting to adjust the belt scrapper from above the supply side of the conveyor, without locking out the power supply, when he lost his balance and fell onto the moving conveyor belt. The Advanced Mill Operator found the victim, when he went to investigate why the conveyor stopped running. He found the victim caught in the conveyor discharge chute and immediately called the Supervisor by radio. He then attempted to remove the victim from the chute, but was unsuccessful. The Supervisor responded to the area within three minutes and checked for a pulse and breathing but found none. The Advanced Mill Operator went to call the 911 emergency number while the Supervisor stayed with the victim. Emergency services including police, fire and rescue personnel responded within 20 minutes. A representative of the coroner's office pronounced the victim dead at the scene. The MD/FACE Field Investigator concluded that to prevent similar future occurrences, employers should: 1. Increase the height of barriers or enclose the top of conveyors with interlocked enclosures that disconnect power when access to the conveyor is required. 2. Reinstruct employees on the primary rules regarding safety around conveyors. 3. Instruct mill operators to visually check the conveyor area when the conveyor belt stops for any unknown reason. 4. Install a start-up alarm that will sound for a predetermined time prior to starting the conveyor belt.
Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Region-3; Engineering-controls; Machine-guarding; Control-technology
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-96MD029; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-309872
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Maryland Division of Labor and Industry
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division