Granite State's OSHA Office Calls Attention to Crushing Hazards from Dumpsters

March 27, 2003
OSHA's New Hampshire area office is urging employers in the Granite State's solid waste industry to review their work practices and hoisting equipment to eliminate deadly crushing hazards posed to their workers by dumpsters that are improperly secured while being lifted and emptied into trash trucks.

OSHA's appeal is sparked by a fatality that occurred Jan. 3 at the Mountain Valley Mall. An employee of North Conway Incinerator Service Inc. of North Conway died when a dumpster dislodged while being lifted, swung around and crushed him against the side of his truck. OSHA's inspection determined that the dumpster's trunnion bar was not locked prior to its being lifted. This would have stabilized the dumpster and kept it from "kicking out."

The inspection identified additional crushing hazards including damaged wire hoisting ropes used to lift dumpsters, lifting hooks lacking safety latches, and wire rope clips not installed according to manufacturer specifications. Employees could be crushed beneath a falling dumpster in the event any of these elements failed during operation.

An inspection of Belmont-based BBI Waste Industries (d/b/a Bestway Disposal), begun Jan. 29 when an OSHA inspector observed one of its trucks lifting an unsecured dumpster in Northfield, identified the same hazards. As a result, OSHA has cited each employer for an alleged willful violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act for failing to supply employment or a place of employment free from recognized crushing hazards.

"We don't want to see this type of hazard become a pattern," said David May, OSHA's New Hampshire area director. "A dumpster can weigh more than a ton, becoming lethal if it dislodges or its hoisting ropes fail. The best thing employers can do for their workers and themselves is to check to ensure that their hoisting equipment is in good condition and that dumpsters are properly and completely secured before being lifted."

North Conway Incinerator Service faces a proposed fine of $21,000 for the willful citation, while a fine of $35,000 is proposed for BBI Waste Industries. Additional fines of $7,200 are proposed for North Conway Incinerator for 10 alleged serious violations for unrelated safety hazards. The serious violations included defective ladders not removed from service; no workplace assessment for hazards requiring personal protective equipment and lack of required eye protection for packer truck operators; no workplace evaluation for permit-required confined spaces and employees not informed that packer truck body was a permit-required confined space; specific lockout/tagout procedures not developed or implemented, and lockout hardware and lockout training not provided for employees performing maintenance on equipment; powered overhead garage door not equipped with an automatic retractor; inadequately guarded point of operation on a cardboard compactor; exposed live electrical parts; and ungrounded and uninspected extension cord.

BBI Waste Industries was cited for one alleged willful violation with a proposed penalty of $35,000, for failing to supply employment or a place of employment free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious injury in that employees were exposed to crushing hazards from trucks not equipped with two devices to lock trunnion bar of dumpsters prior to lifting; damaged wire rope used to hoist dumpsters; wire rope clip and wire rope eye not installed according to manufacturer specifications; spring-loaded safety latches not in place on hook used to lift dumpsters.

The companies have 15 days from receipt of the citations to request an informal interview with the area OSHA director, pay the fines or contest the case before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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