Safety and OSHA News

Incident shows danger of loose clothing

Next time you want to give employees a reminder about the hazards of loose clothing around machinery, you might want to use this story.

A car wash employee in Easthampton, MA, was nearly strangled when her scarf got caught in a rotating scrubber brush.

The brush latched onto Stephanie Carpluk’s scarf, cinched it tight and prevented her from breathing, according to The Republican.

Carpluk says she was walking through the car wash tunnel at the Golden Nozzle, on her way to the office to get change, when the incident happened.

She was rescued from the scrubber by a car wash customer. He jumped out of his car as it was going through the car wash, cut Carpluk free using a pocket knife, and performed mouth-to-mouth to restore her breathing.

Carpluk spent three days in a hospital and is recuperating at home. She has bruises around her neck and under her eyes.

OSHA has already visited the car wash to investigate.

Golden Nozzle owner Steven Roberts says his company has a policy regarding what employees should wear.

Carpluk said she often wore her scarf to work.

An incident involving a scarf is certainly rare. Loose-fitting shirt sleeves, pant legs or dangling jewelry are more likely to cause a problem that could lead to serious injury or even death.

While OSHA’s machine guarding regulations don’t address loose clothing or jewelry, if a company doesn’t address such hazards in its safety plan, it could be cited under the General Duty Clause.

Print Friendly

Subscribe Today

Get the latest and greatest safety news and insights delivered to your inbox.


  1. I would think that car washes prevent people from walking through the car wash tunnel. There’s too much machinery running, and by the nature of the business, the floor is wet and slippery from soap.

    It’s also funny that her last name is “Carpluk”. She got PLUCKED out of the CAR wash machine. =;o)

  2. Had something similar happen at our plant several years ago. A woman with long hair was working on a lathe and had forgotten to tie her hair back. As she leaned over the work, her hair got tangled up in the item and started pulling her into the lathe. Fortunately, the machine was spinning slowly and she was doubly lucky to hit the STOP switch as she was pulled in. As it was, she slammed her head onto the chuck and lost about 3X3 inches of her scalp and hair. And yes, we had a policy about long hair and loose clothing, and yes, we had to pay for her injuries even though it was her negligence.

  3. I feel the most common hazard is hooded sweatshirts, especially those with drawstrings. Don’t forget those when drafting a policy for workplaces having rotating equipment and/or conveyors.

  4. Just suppose the man who saved this girl’s life didn’t have a pocket knife to cut her free! Not a bad idea to carry an item like that. I use mine for a hundred different needs.
    However, this girl should not have been allowed to go into the office via the car-wash tunnel–an accident waiting to happen.

  5. She WAS an employee.

  6. I work for a Risk Management / Machine Guarding company and hear all kinds of stories. We dealt with two cases last year that were very similar to the one Larry told. Both time it happened to employees with pony tails working on metal turning lathes. The lead screw was turning and slowly and in both cases pulled the employee in. A minute of inattention changed their lives forever. For what its worth, friction type gloves, the blue kind should never be worn around any lathe.

  7. Sweatshirts with hoods being worn in the work place BLOCKS SIDE VIEWS in the work place.

Speak Your Mind