Thursday, September 10, 2009

Vending Machine Deaths -- Fact or Urban Myth

I bought pretzels from the vending machine for lunch today, and the bag got hung up in the machine. I hit the machine a few times, and could not dislodge it. I bought a second bag, and got both of them -- two bags for twice the price.

I remarked that some people die each year from vending machines falling on them.

Coworker Collin said, "What a good blog post," and so here it is.

Strange as it seems vending machine deaths are real, and not urban myths.

One to three people die in America due to falling vending machines ( according to numbers for 1978-1995 from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.)  The Army published data of 15 cases in JAMA in 1988 including three resulting in deaths.

There are fewer deaths recently because vending machines are usually bolted to the wall or the floor.
Soda (pop) machines weigh 800-1000 pounds and candy machines weigh about 600 pounds.

A consulting company did an animation of a Dr. Pepper Machine falling and crushing a 14 year old boy, seemingly as part of an insurance company investigation. This is a RealPlayer animation, and it is fairly creepy.