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A 53-year-old worker at a Roanoke County recycling plant in Virginia was killed in an accident last week after he fell in a baler machine that is used to compact waste, the Roanoke Times reported.

Daniel A. Emery had been working at the Recycling and Disposal Solutions facility since May. He was employed as a machine operator and the baler machine that he operated is used to crush together aluminum cans, plastic bottles and other items.

The incident occurred on Aug. 27 and is still being investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The investigation may take up to six months, inspectors said.

Colleagues of Emery said that he was a good employee and worked hard. It is believed that he may have slipped and fallen into the machine. Emery was living at the Salvation Army's Red Shield Lodge in Roanoke and the shelter's program director Mike Moffitt commented that he did not have problems with substance abuse, unlike many of the other residents.

The company, Recycling and Disposal Solutions, stated that it was "saddened" by the tragedy but declined to comment further because of the ongoing investigation.

According to Waste and Recycling News, Emery is one of at least 21 people working in sanitation or recycling who have died in industrial incidents in 2013. Last year 26 workers in the sector lost their lives while performing their duties.