Scrap Metal Yard Fatality

This short presentation describes a preventable workplace incident where a worker in Washington state was killed on the job and is narrated by the L & I safety inspector who conducted the investigation. To view the narration script, click on the button on the lower right corner of the screen. To move between slides, or view a particular slide again, click on the same lower right hand corner button and then click on the back and forward arrows at the bottom of the screen.

Scrap Metal Yard Fatality

Hello, my name is Amy Drapeau and I work as a safety and health specialist for the Department of Labor & Industries Division of Occupational Safety and Health. In June, 2009, I was assigned to investigate the death of a worker at a metal scrap yard.

Slide 3

This metal scrap yard received large bundles of long aluminum strips which needed to be loaded into the trailer shown in this slide. Previously, the long strips had to be cut into shorter lengths to fit into this trailer. When the scrap yard began receiving shorter lengths, yard workers thought the bundles could be loaded into the trailer without cutting them. The workers came up with a new procedure using a bobcat and a metal table with wheels to do just that, and got the go-ahead from management.

Slide 4

This unique procedure proved to be extremely hazardous. Workers began loading the 5000 pound bundles onto the 5-foot-by-5-foot metal table and then pushing the loaded table into the trailer with a bobcat vehicle shown in the lower photo. While two workers would wait at the front of the trailer acting as spotters, a third worker operated the bobcat. The bundle was not secured to the table.

Slide 5

Once the table was rolled up to the nose of the trailer, the bobcat operator would push the bundle forward off the table and on top of bundles already on the floor. The procedure had been done two or three times without incident. But in this incident, before the bundle could be pushed forward, the table tipped to the right, dumping the bundle onto the worker standing next to the trailer wall on the right. The bobcat operator could not see the two workers in the front of the trailer, and the two workers had no means of escape in the cramped space. One worker managed to get out of the way, but the second worker did not. The hole in the side of the trailer in the photo was cut by firefighters to gain access to the injured worker. By the time they were able to pull him out from under the bundle, he had died from massive crushing injuries.

Slide 6

As shown on this slide, the employer had an Accident Prevention Program, which included language that outlined what to do when new work procedure is developed. But in this incident, the new loading procedure was not checked out for any risks it posed to workers even though a workplace hazard assessment was required in their Accident Prevention Program manual. The company was cited for not ensuring that all work practices, processes and means are reasonably adequate to make the workplace safe. As a result of this incident, the company went back to cutting the metal strips into short lengths, putting them in crates and loading them into the trailer with a forklift.

Slide 7

New workplace procedures almost always have some inherent hazards that must be addressed before they are implemented. Please help us to Keep Washington Safe and Working by addressing all new workplace procedures for safety hazards.