Washington FACE: Dairy worker injured when clothes are caught in straw spreader

Photo of straw separator

Photo of straw spreader bars. Arrow indicates where worker's
clothing was enangled in rotating beater bar.

Fatality Narrative

Industry: Dairy Cattle and Milk Production

Release Date: August 22, 2017

Task: Greasing straw spreader Incident Date: December 13, 2016
Occupation: Laborer Case No.:
Type of Incident: Caught in running machinery SHARP Report No.: 71-161-2017

In December 2016, a worker at a dairy farm was severely injured when his clothing was caught in the rotating beater bars of a straw spreader that he was greasing.

The worker had been employed at the dairy for 7 months, and had worked in the industry for about 4 years. On the day of the incident, he was working to grease the bearings on a hydraulic straw spreader attached to a tractor. This task was performed by farm employees as needed, up to twice a week.

The worker told investigators that the farm mechanic had trained him to grease the straw spreader while it was running so that grease would go into the bearings. The employer’s accident prevention program included information about lockout/tagout procedures, but not specifically for the straw spreader. The worker said that he had never received training in lockout/ tagout procedures.

When the worker had finished greasing the bearings on one part of the spreader, he started to duck under the rotating beater bars to get to the next set of bearings underneath the machine. As he bent down, the metal teeth caught hold of his loose hooded sweatshirt and pulled his head and neck into the beaters.

The straw spreader had a mechanism to shut off automatically when jammed, but when the beater bars stopped rotating, he remained entangled in the machine and lost consciousness. Another employee found the injured worker caught in the teeth and shut off the power to the straw spreader. The co-worker and a supervisor were able to cut him loose and call emergency services.

He underwent surgery for fractures to his neck and skull. After more than six months, he had still not been able to return to work due to the extent of his injuries.

To view the slideshow version of this narrative, click here.


  • Employers must develop, document, and use procedures to control potentially hazardous energy. See WAC 296-307-32013(1)
  • Employers must provide training to ensure that employees understand the purpose and function of the energy control program. See WAC 296-307-32019
  • Employees must receive training in the recognition of applicable hazardous energy sources, the type and magnitude of the energy available in the workplace, and the methods and means necessary for energy isolation and control. See WAC 296-307-32019(1)


  • Always follow lockout/tagout procedures during machine maintenance and repair. Wait until moving parts come to a complete stop before servicing equipment.
  • Employers should do spot-checks to ensure that new employees are receiving proper safety training.
  • Never wear loose fitting clothing around rotating or moving machine parts.


Agriculture Safety and Health Pocket Guide

Dairy farm Safety: Key Hazards and Solutions

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