Safety and OSHA News

Employee crushed to death in trash compactor

Here’s a question for employees: If an item falls into a large trash compactor by mistake, is it worth risking your life to try to retrieve the item?

John Adams, a maintenance man at an office building in Niagara Falls, NY, had been missing since July 4. The last time someone saw him, he was working at his maintenance job.

Owners of the One Niagara building had offered a $1,500 reward for information on Adams.

Finally, it was the building’s own video surveillance that showed what happened to Adams.

The video showed Adams entering an active trash compactor to retrieve a fallen garbage bin and apparently being crushed by the device. The device was a large, self-contained Dumpster that has a mechanical compacting mechanism that prevented him from being able to escape and made it impossible for co-workers to realize what occurred.

Why wasn’t the building’s surveillance tape checked until three weeks after Adams was reported missing?

Representatives for the building told the Niagara Gazette an initial police search of the compactor turned up no conclusive evidence of Adams’ remains.

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  1. This is so tragic. If this were a TV drama and the last place the man was seen was at work, checking the business’ surveillance tapes would be among the first things the detectives would do.
    And no, rescuing the trash bin is not worth risking my life. Better training for employees using the compactor and maybe a pole with a hook on it that could be used to retrieve items without entering the compactor may have prevented this tragedy.

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