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Entrapment in an intermodal cargo-container spreader kills worker at seaport terminal.

New Jersey 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 08NJ012, 2009 Nov; :1-15
A worker was killed when his head was crushed between structural beams of an intermodal cargo-container spreader as it was being closed during the lubrication of the guide rails. A crew of four employees prepared the spreader for use, with one employee working the crane and the three others lubricating the guide rails with a petroleum-based aerosol spray. The employees lubricating the guide rails had to be within the moving parts of the spreader in order to reach certain areas of the guide rails. At the time of the incident, there was no written standard operating procedure or employee training for the spreader guide-rail lubrication procedure. NJ FACE investigators recommend following these safety guidelines to prevent similar incidents: 1. Lubrication procedures for intermodal cargo-container spreaders should be designed so that employees can perform this task without reaching into moving parts of the spreader. These procedures may require both specific tools and well-designed work practices. 2. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and training specific to the maintenance and hazards of spreaders should be developed and provided to all employees who handle the loading and off-loading of intermodal cargo containers. These SOPs and training should include information on hazards and safe work practices. 3. Ground crews working with intermodal container-cargo spreaders should have the ability to operate the spreader, have panic buttons and interrupt switches available for use in the event of an emergency, and at least one ground crew member should act as a spotter. 4. Communication among all workers must be effective and include properly operating voice communication systems. Communications must be real-time and allow for employees to communicate from the location where they are working. 5. Employers should investigate equipping the mobile equipment, such as the cargo-container or the crane, with additional visual or sensing devices to enhance the operator's ability to detect the presence of workers on foot near the spreader. This includes technologies such as cameras, radar, and/or sonar to alert the operator to the presence of workers in "blind areas," as well as tag-based warning systems, which can detect workers wearing tags. 6. Employers should conduct a job hazard analysis of all work activities with the participation of the workers.
Region-2; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Training; Traumatic-injuries; Work-analysis; Work-environment; Work-operations; Work-performance; Work-practices
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-08NJ012; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008485
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
New Jersey Department of Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division