NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

A 38-year-old recycle technician died as a result of injuries sustained when he fell into a cardboard compactor.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
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 94CO029, 1994 Dec; :1-3
On June 29, 1994 a 38-year-old recycling technician at a county-owned sanitary landfill was fatally injured after falling into a large trash compactor. The compactor was used to bale cardboard for the purpose of recycling. Cardboard is fed onto a subfloor forty-eight inch wide conveyor belt that moves the material to a height of approximately twenty feet. The cardboard then falls through a 20 x 44 inch opening into a hopper chute which is at a ninety-degree angle to the conveyor. On the day of the incident, the cardboard jammed at the constriction, and would not fall into the chute. Based upon evidence gathered in the workplace investigation, it appeared that the technician rode the conveyor belt to the hopper chute opening to remove the jammed cardboard. He fell into the hopper chute and was entrapped. The feed hopper is equipped with an electric eye that measures the amount of material in the hopper and automatically activates the baler when sufficient material has accumulated. When the baler is activated by the electric eye, material in the baling chamber is compressed by a piston-type ram that enters the chamber from the side. Excess material above the baler chamber is cut by a shear blade as the material is compressed. This cycle was activated while the technician was in the baler chamber. His legs were amputated. He bled to death before he could be extracted from the machine. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) investigator concluded that to prevent future similar occurrences, employers should: 1. Ensure that all power sources are deactivated before operators make adjustments or clean machinery. 2. Develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive written safety program that includes a lock-out/tag out policy. 3. Modify the housing at the top of the chute so that cardboard jams can be cleared from the exterior of the equipment. 4. Develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive written safety program. 5. Conduct a work-site survey to assess the potential safety hazards. Once an assessment has been completed, written safety rules and procedures should be developed, implemented, and enforced.
Region-8; 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; Safety-programs; Machine-guarding; Machine-operation
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-94CO029; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-808518
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division