NOIRS 1997 Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 1997. Washington, DC: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1997 Oct; :59-60
Scrap balers and compactors reduce large amounts of solid waste to small units by means of powered rams or compacting panels. These machines are used by manufacturing companies to handle large amounts of scrap and waste materials such as paper, cotton and metals, by retail and service establishments to compress paper and cardboard boxes, and by government agencies for refuse collection, disposal and recycling. Stationary compactors and balers are commonly used in recycling centers, manufacturing facilities, and retail stores, while mobile compactors are used in refuse collection. The goal of the presentation is to describe the circumstances and risk factors associated with crushing and amputation injuries due to baling and compacting equipment, and to provide recommendations which employers and workers can use to prevent future injuries. Data sources were the National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities (NTOF) surveillance system, the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), and the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) project. NTOF is based upon death certificates, CFOI identifies fatalities through multiple sources, and FACE combines surveillance of occupational fatalities with site investigation of selected fatality types. Crushing and amputation injuries sustained due to baling and compacting equipment are preventable. Determination of circumstances and identification of risk factors can lead to the development of prevention strategies. Fatalities were identified through key word searching of all three databases and were further classified by machine type (stationary or mobile). Field investigations conducted by the New Jersey FACE program evaluated the circumstances of three of these fatalities. Risk factors identified were addressed by the development of recommendations for injury prevention. The NTOF identified 58 fatalities involving compacting and baling equipment occurring between 1980 and 1992. Mobile compactors contributed to 31 of these deaths. CFOI data for 1992 to 1994 included 18 fatalities . FACE identified 9 fatal incidents in 7 states due to crushing or amputation in compactor or baling equipment; all but one were stationary machines. A large proportion of the fatal injuries occurred when the victim was caught by the ram (platen) while inside the baling chamber, resulting in amputation or crushing injury. These incidents usually occurred during attempts by the victim to free jammed material inside feed chutes of operating machines. FACE data shows that these fatalities frequently occurred when appropriate hazardous energy control procedures were not implemented during servicing of the machine to clear jammed material. At least two incidents occurred when victims fell into the balers, unknown to their co-workers. Risk factors include failure to de-energize equipment before servicing, lack of hazard recognition on the part of the victim, bypassed or inoperative control interlocks or other safety features, unsafe means of access to the inside of the machine for servicing, and lack of a system to account for the location of workers. Fatalities due to baling and compacting equipment could be reduced or eliminated if employers and employees would implement and follow appropriate hazardous energy control procedures. Prevention strategies include de-energization of machines prior to and during servicing, provision for safe access to feed chutes and hoppers for clearing jammed material, and compliance with consensus standards.