Machinist dies after being pulled into manual lathe

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Case report: 21KY002
Issued by: Kentucky State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program
Date of incident: Feb. 17, 2021

A 52-year-old machinist at a manufacturing company was preparing to spot drill the center of a 103-inch piece of round steel in a manual lathe. Because of the length of the steel, 24 inches of the material was protruding out of the back of the unguarded lathe, held in place with an aftermarket clamping device that rotates as the lathe rotates. Security footage showed that while the lathe was in operation and the steel rod was spinning, the machinist attempted to grab a glove from the top of the lathe. The sleeve of his shirt became entangled on the clamping device, pulling him into the lathe between the motor and rotating piece of steel. As the lathe continued to turn, the machinist’s body rotated around the piece of steel and struck the motor about 12 times. An employee in the changing room heard the event, ran out to investigate, shut down the machine and called emergency medical services. First responders transported the partially conscious machinist to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Cause of death was listed as traumatic blunt force injuries.

To help prevent similar occurrences, employers should:

  • Fabricate or purchase guarding and affix it to machines to protect operators from rotating components.
  • Mark “No entry areas” clearly and provide applicable training.
  • Prohibit machine operators from wearing loose-fitting clothing while operating lathes.
  • Consider implementing a job hazard analysis procedure.
  • Regularly provide hazard awareness training to employees.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.


On March 7, 2019, a 46-year-contractor with three years of experience was fatally injured when he lost his balance and fell backwards through a narrow gap between two log washers and landed on a cable tray approximately 12 feet below.  The victim was changing drive belts on a log washer motor when his wrench slipped off of a bolt he was tightening, causing the loss of balance.

Best Practices:
  • Always use fall protection equipment, safety belts and lines, when working at heights and near openings where there is a danger of falling.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and any hazards that may be present.
  • Have properly designed handrails, guards, and covers securely in place at openings through which persons may fall.
  • Train personnel in safe work procedures regarding the use of handrails and fall protection equipment during maintenance and construction activities and ensure their use.
  • Conduct workplace examinations in order to identify and correct hazards prior to performing work.