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Fifteen-year-old Hispanic youth dies after entering the hopper of a bark blower - Maryland.

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 2004-08, 2006 Feb; :1-11
On May 18, 2004, a fifteen-year-old Hispanic youth died after entering the hopper of a bark blower and becoming entangled in an auger. The victim was a member of a two-man crew dispensing mulch onto the back yard of a new residence in a housing complex. The self-contained, truck-mounted bark blower had been filled to capacity with mulch at the company supply yard and driven to the worksite. The mulch was directed to the rear of the bark blower by an auger/agitator and drag conveyor located near the floor surface of the bark blower's hopper. The mulch was then dispensed by the bark blower through a four-inch, metal-reinforced flexible rubber hose. The victim was directing the flow of the mulch through the hose when the bark blower emptied. He was instructed by the foreman to walk approximately 100 feet to the rear right side of the truck and turn off and lock out the box that supplied power to the auger and blower, then return the key to the foreman. When the foreman noticed after a few minutes that the blower was still running, he walked to the rear of the hopper and climbed a fixed ladder and looked inside. He saw the victim at the bottom of the hopper entangled in the auger/agitator. He immediately ran to a nearby residence and asked the owner to call 911. Emergency Medical Service (EMS) and fire personnel arrived and determined this event was a recovery mission. The bark blower was driven to a local fire station where company mechanics and fire and rescue personnel extricated the victim's body. The county coroner pronounced the victim dead at the fire station. NIOSH investigators determined that, to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should: 1. conduct a hazard assessment of machinery to identify potential hazards to which workers might be exposed; 2. develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive safety program, and provide safety training in language(s) and literacy level(s) of workers, which includes training in hazard recognition and the avoidance of unsafe conditions; 3. develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive written program for work in permit-required confined spaces, such as bark blowers; 4. establish work policies that comply with employment standards for youth less than 18 years of age in nonagricultural employment. Employers should communicate these work policies to all employees; 5. ensure that machinery is operated in accordance with manufacturers' specifications; 6. implement training programs targeted at youth workers which emphasize the link between unsafe behavior and the potential for injury, and provide constant supervision to younger workers; 7. ensure that restroom facilities or transportation to restroom facilities are available for mobile work crews. Additionally manufacturers should: 1. consider and evaluate the installation of grid-shaped guards at the top of bark thrower hoppers and over the auger and drag conveyor during the manufacturing process. Ladder locks to prevent unqualified workers from accessing the top of the hopper should also be evaluated and installed if feasible; 2. consider affixing dual language labels with graphics to provide hazard warnings and instructions for safe use of equipment.
Region-4; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Age-factors; Age-groups; Children; Training; Warning-signs; Machine-guarding; Equipment-operators; Machine-operators; Surveillance
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division