Houston worker dies in industrial trash compactor accident

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by Eric Pearson

On July 11, 2013, a Houston man was killed after he fell into an industrial trash compactor. The 43 year-old worker at an appliance parts distribution company died after he fell into a mobile compacting machine affixed to the back of a box truck. Such machines are used to crush packaging material.

Police say the worker was placing dry plastic foam material into the shredder, which melts the material and places it into bags. Investigators say he reached into the machine with his right hand and the blades pulled him into the device. Fire crews needed about two hours to extract the man’s body from the machine.

Far more workplace deaths in Texas than in any other state

This tragic death in Houston is unfortunately just the latest in a remarkable string of industrial accidents in Texas. According to a September 2012 report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a preliminary total of 4,609 fatal work injuries in the United States in 2011, down from a total of 4,690 fatal work injuries in 2010. However, as the Dallas Morning News recently reported, the number of workplace deaths in Texas has remained both very high and largely unchanged for decades.

A September 2012 article by journalist Bill Bowers, titled As Workplace Deaths Fall Nationally, They Remain Stubbornly High In Texas, noted that in the 1990s there were more than 6,000 fatalities per year in the United States However, workplace fatalities declined 16 percent from 2003 to 2010, from 5,575 to 4,690. The story within Texas is vastly different.

Texas led the nation with 461 total worker deaths in 2010, the most recent year for which complete data is available. In fact, the Texas total was about 10 percent of the national total and was far ahead of No. 2 California, which reported only 302 deaths. Bowers reports that eighty-two of the 461 Texas deaths were in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The same data shows that workplace deaths in Texas have remained relatively constant—at least 400 and usually closer to 500 every year since 1992.

Bowers notes that “many blame the state’s lax workplace rules” for the inordinate number of industrial accidents. Ken Nibarger, a safety specialist with the United Steel Workers Union, says the rise in numbers of temporary worker is a contributing factor to worker injuries and deaths because those workers aren’t on site long enough to become familiar with the dangers of a certain plant or job.

At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have tried hundreds of personal injury cases to verdict and have settled hundreds more. In 2010 alone, we negotiated settlements of personal injury and wrongful death claims totaling more than $50 million.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson also has the financial resources to handle personal injury cases from start to finish. In fact, there are many instances in which we invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a case in order to take it to trial. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we are committed to achieving justice for our clients, whatever the cost.

If you have been seriously injured, or a friend or loved one was injured or killed, in a workplace accident, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for your free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal right to compensation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out a free legal consultation form.