A worker at Ultra-Poly Inc. in Tacoma, Wash., died Sept. 20 after falling into a blender on an extrusion machine.
Frank Nelson, 26, apparently fell while pouring colorants into the 3-foot-by-5-foot blender, according to John Howard, chief medical examiner for Pierce County. The blender's revolving mixing blades killed Nelson, Howard said.
``The cause of death was multiple crush injuries,'' Howard said by telephone Sept. 24, adding the incident is under investigation.
``We have to figure out what happened to allow him to get into the machine,'' he said.
The Washington Industrial Safety and Health Administration is investigating the incident, but it will be at least several weeks before the agency makes a report public, WISHA spokesman Bill Riddle said.
Company officials were unavailable for comment by press time.
Ultra-Poly is a custom extruder of ultrahigh-molecular-weight polyethylene stock shapes, primarily for marine uses. The company employs 55 and has annual sales of $5 million to $10 million, according to a business directory.
More than 100 plastics industry workers have died from work-related causes in the United States since 1992, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.
At least 17 plastics industry employees died on the job in 1996, according to the CFOI's latest statistics.
Nelson is at least the second person to die in a plastics processing-related incident during 1997.
A man died Feb. 20 at a Wisconsin injection molding plant while trying to clear a stuck part from a machine.
Two other workers died and four were injured June 5 at a California plastics processing plant when a co-worker went on a shooting spree. While not a manufacturing incident, the CFOI will include the shooting deaths in its 1997 count of work-related fatalities.