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Laborer died after 2000-pound flexible tote bag falls on him.

Michigan State University
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 03MI160, 2005 Feb; :1-7
On November 11, 2003, a 60-year-old male general laborer at a grain elevator was suffocated when a 4' x 4' x 4' duffle-top style polyethylene tote bag containing approximately 2,000 pounds of split black beans fell from its double-stacked position and landed on the victim, causing him to be pinned against a 25" tall section of a retaining wall. The tote bags were stacked one on top of the other with one row of tote bags near a wall and the second row placed adjacent to the second row. The outside edges of the bottom row of totes were not supported. The totes were not tied closed. The tote bag storage area was adjacent to the "flat storage warehouse," whose outer boundary was defined by a retaining wall. The retaining wall was located approximately three feet from the outside edge of the stacked tote bags. Mobile equipment used to move products in the flat storage area gained access to the area by a 13'10" horizontal sliding bay door that could be opened from either outside or inside the building. It appears that the victim was killed as he was trying to open the sliding door. The victim walked in the 3' wide aisle between the stacked tote bags and the retaining wall to grab onto a vice-grip "C" clamp on the sliding door. The door would travel horizontally between the stacked tote bags and the retaining wall. While facing the retaining wall (with his back to the totes), he opened the door moving from his left to right. As he was opening the door, it appears that one of the top tote bags started to lean and began to spill the split beans. The bag fell onto him from behind and forced his upper body into the lower level of the retaining wall. Figure 1 shows the stacked tote bags; the dotted rectangle represents the position of the tote bag that fell. A co-worker found him under the bag, then went to the facility manager's office. The facility manager called 9-1-1. They returned to the incident site and worked to remove the beans and tote bag from the victim's back. The police and medical examiner arrived, and the victim was declared dead at the scene. Recommendations: 1. Employers should ensure that flexible storage container filling, stacking and storage are performed in a manner that minimizes the possibility of containers falling. 2. Identify and appropriately mark aisle ways and passageways and require employees moving from one work area to another use these marked aisle ways and passageways.
Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Traumatic-injuries; Region-5; Work-practices; Work-analysis; Work-performance; Occupational-accidents; Occupational-hazards; Agricultural-workers; Materials-handling; Materials-handling-equipment; Materials-storage
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-03MI160; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-521205
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Michigan State University
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division