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FACEValue: Worker crushed by industrial washing machine

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Case report: #11-CA-007*
Issued by: California Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program
Date of incident: July 20, 2011

A 28-year-old laborer was operating a horizontal drum industrial washing machine when he was crushed and killed. The company he worked for did not have a written safety program or an injury and illness prevention program. On the day of the incident, a co-worker aligned the inside door on the drum with the outside door on the frame. The victim’s supervisor opened the drum door, and the victim began to retrieve laundry by leaning inside the drum. Video shows the supervisor – unaware the victim was leaning inside the drum – then switched the machine on and the drum rotated upward, pulling the victim off his feet and pinning his torso between the drum and frame of the machine. The supervisor switched off the machine and then attempted to free the victim. Other employees in the shop also came to help, but the victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

To prevent future occurrences:

  1. Create and implement a comprehensive injury and illness prevention program that includes worker training in the worker’s primary language.
  2. Ensure the safety features of industrial washing machines are maintained or repaired in accordance with manufacturer specifications.