The chipper, affectionately known as the "Hog," will take birch or maple logs up to 24 inches in diameter and reduce them to 3/4" chips of wood. Employees were working late to make up for time spent repairing equipment malfunctions earlier in the day. When the Hog jammed, Michael climbed the conveyor belt feeding the chipper and used a rake to break up the bark jam in the chute.
Director C. William Freeman of the Bangor Occupational Safety and Health Administration said, "Generally, our experience (of fatal accidents involving chippers) has found two causes: inadequate machine guarding, or a failure to institute an effective lockout-tagout program when someone is unjamming pieces of equipment." Apparently Michael was not a proponent of lockout-tagout procedures. His efforts were directed against a machine that was still in operation.
The Skowhegan resident was somewhat the worse for the wear after his passage through the Hog. Police Chief Butch Asselin said that the remains would be subjected to DNA analysis for a positive ID, and added "I hope I never, ever see anything like this, ever again. I had a hard time sleeping last night."
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Submitted by: Douglas Baugher, Jim Sweet, Mark O. Van Valkenburgh
Reference: Joe Rankin of Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc., and Kennebec Journal