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Design Recommendations for Controlling the Jam-Clearing Hazard on Recycling Industry Balers

[+] Author Affiliations
T. Mick, K. Means, J. Etherton, J. Powers, E. A. McKenzie, Jr.

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health

Paper No. IMECE2005-79699, pp. 133-137; 5 pages
  • ASME 2005 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Engineering/Technology Management
  • Orlando, Florida, USA, November 5 – 11, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Engineering and Technology Management Group
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4230-4 | eISBN: 0-7918-3769-6
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


Between 1986 and 2002, there were 43 fatalities in the United States to operators of recycling industry balers. Of these fatalities, 29 involved horizontal balers that were baling paper and cardboard (Taylor, 2002). Balers often become jammed while the baling process is occurring, and the only way to remove the jam is manually. This requires an employee to place a limb of their body into the jamming area and remove the material that is causing the jam. While lockout and tagout procedures reduce the risk of hazardous energy being released, they can still be easily bypassed, ignored, or forgotten. Recent efforts to reduce machine-related injury and death involve the development of a control system for these machines that automatically detects hazardous operating conditions and responds accordingly. The system is being developed at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). This system, JamAlert, automatically terminates the power to the machine when a jam is detected. JamAlert detects a jam by observing both the strain that is experienced by the shear bar of the baler and the hydraulic pressure at which the ram is operating. The strain that is experienced by the baler shear bar when a jam is initiated was calculated in this study through laboratory testing and finite element modeling. Design recommendations are presented on how best to tune the JamAlert’s operating program to most effectively control the jam-clearing hazard.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME



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