Compactors and balers are commonplace in many workplaces. But many of them are old, missing guards, and used by people who are not trained on how to properly use them or are too young to use them. As many of you know, I represent a lot of grocery stores. Whenever I am on-site I always ask to see their compactors, make sure they’re working properly and have the required guards in place, and I remind clients that minors are – for the most part – prohibited from using compactors. I am proud to say that the overwhelming majority of my clients comply with the law and have not had any compactor or baler injuries.
A grocer in California was not as fortunate. There, a 43-year old employee was crushed to death in a machine used to compact cardboard for recycling. The worker had been with the store for over 5 years, which in the high turnover grocery industry is a very long time. I am certain that for the company, any resulting OSHA fines will pale in comparison to the horror of losing a worker in this manner.
Now is a good time to remind readers of OSHA regulations pertaining to compactors and balers. The Department of Labor has a great summary of how and when minors are permitted to use these machines. I suggest everyone read Fact Sheet #57.
Matt Austin is a Columbus, Ohio lawyer who owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm with offices in central and northeast Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can always call Matt at 614.843.3041 or email him at Austin@LaborEmploymentOSHA.com