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City maintenance worker dies after being pinned in street sweeper.

Minnesota Department of Health
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 02MN034, 2002 Feb; :1-8
A 43-year-old city employee (victim) died after he was pinned between the hopper and the suction hose of a street sweeper. The sweeper design, known as a cross wind design uses a loop of air which results in less dust being returned to the environment. A large flexible suction hose connects one end of the sweeper's pickup head to the collection hopper. All of the sweeper's operating controls are located in the cab of the sweeper except for the controls to empty the collection hopper. The hopper controls consist of two levers that are located on the right hand side of the unit. They are recessed beneath the collection hopper and are directly under a steel plate designed to prevent the levers from being inadvertently activated. A safety/warning sign on the top of the plate reads "NO STEP". When the lever to raise the hopper is pulled up, the hopper raises and debris is dumped from the hopper. When the lever is pushed down, the hopper lowers to it's down position. The sweeper was equipped with a hopper support (safety) bar to prevent the hopper from lowering during maintenance and repair. The safety bar can be put in use when the hopper is raised by pulling the head of a small pin from a rubber grommet to release the bar. The lower end of the bar then rests in a steel holder from which it must be manually lifted before the hopper can be lowered. At the time of the incident, the safety bar was not in use. The victim and other city workers worked on the east side of the city until 10:20 a.m. when they stopped for a break. After the break, the victim drove the sweeper to a landfill to empty the collection hopper. He backed the sweeper into a dumping area at the landfill, got out of the cab and emptied the hopper. After dumping the hopper, the victim apparently used a steel bar to dislodge items from the unit's suction hose. Apparently, after tapping on the hose, he climbed up to look down into it. While looking into the suction hose, he may have placed his right foot on a safety plate located above the hopper control levers. While in this position, his foot apparently slipped and struck the lever that raised and lowered the hopper. The hopper lowered and the victim became pinned between the top of the suction hose and the side of the hopper. At approximately 12:15 p.m., another worker arrived at the landfill with a dump truck loaded with debris. He noticed the sweeper in the same position that he had previously seen it earlier that day. He drove his truck over to the sweeper to determine if there was a problem and found the victim. He used a two-way radio to call for help. Two other city employees who were at the landfill were also notified by the truck driver and rushed to the scene. They raised the hopper and freed the victim. A coroner and other emergency personnel arrived at the scene shortly after the victim was freed. The coroner examined the victim and pronounced him dead at the scene. The sweeper was examined several days after the incident. It was found that all of its mechanical and hydraulic systems were in working condition and that the incident was not the result of any type of equipment or system failure. MN FACE investigators concluded that to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, the following guidelines should be followed: 1. workers should always use all safety devices that machines are equipped with to prevent injury and exposure to hazards, 2. equipment manufacturers should incorporate passive safety devices and systems in the design of machines to protect workers from unexpected movement of components; and 3. when considering human factors, manufacturers should locate operating controls so as to provide the maximum possible protection against inadvertent and unexpected movement of machine components.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Work-areas; Work-performance; Work-practices; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Protective-measures; Equipment-operators; Equipment-reliability; Machine-guarding; Machine-operation
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
FACE-02MN034; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-507283
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Minnesota Department of Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division