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 2005-05, 2005 Aug; :1-10
On March 9, 2005, a fourteen-year-old male Hispanic laborer (the victim) died from injuries sustained after coming in contact with the blade inside a Densifier. A Densifier is a machine used to shred and grind plastic bags into a recyclable product. During the night shift, while the seven other crew members, all Hispanic, were out of the immediate vicinity of the Densifier, the victim entered the machine. When the coworkers returned to the area, they were unable to locate the victim on the plant floor. A coworker looked into the machine and saw the victim inside. He called 911 and then called the plant manager at his home. Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel responded to the scene within 7 minutes. When the plant manager arrived, he turned off and locked out the external power source to the Densifier. EMS personnel, who entered the machine through a side access hatch by removing the fixed bolts, removed the remains of the victim. A coroner in attendance pronounced the victim dead at the scene. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should: 1. establish a lockout/tagout program that, at a minimum, meets requirements established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); 2. ensure that equipment is inspected daily and all defective equipment is removed from service until needed repairs have been made; 3. develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive written safety and health training program for all workers, including requirements for work in permit-required confined spaces, such as Densifiers; 4. train workers in hazard recognition and safe work practices for all tasks to which they are assigned or allowed to perform, including those pertaining to work requiring lockout/tagout and work in a permit-required confined space. The use of the workers' primary language(s) and careful consideration of literacy levels will maximize worker comprehension of these subjects; 5. post warning signs in a language(s) that all workers can understand at entrances to each permit-required confined space, such as the top opening and the side hatch of the Densifier, warning of immediate danger and safety requirements for entry; 6. consider retrofitting the Densifier with a barrier or guardrail to prevent workers from entering or falling into the top opening, installing appropriate guardrails around the operator platform, and placing standard railings on access stairways; and, 7. establish work policies that comply with employment standards for 14-and 15-year-olds in nonagricultural employment. These requirements are published in Subpart C of Part 570 of Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Child Labor Regulation No. 3. Employers should communicate these work policies to all employees.