We all understand there are hazards associated with many jobs. However, we expect our employers to keep us safe in the workplace. One way an employer can help protect employees from serious injury including burns, blindness, loss of a limb, or a crushed extremity is through the use of effective machine guarding.
Potentially Dangerous Machinery in Factories and Warehouses
Any machinery which is used in an industrial setting should have guarding in place to protect a user and anyone in the area. Some of the most common types of equipment in manufacturing settings include:
- Plastic Goods Manufacturing Machinery — machines used to manufacture cups, plates, and other plastics depend on operators using injection molding machines or thermoforming machines. These machines not only work at high speeds but have the capacity to cause severe injuries. Parts which fail, machine jams, or other events can cause fires, flying debris, or metal projectiles.
- Various Presses — mechanical, hydraulic, and pneumatic presses are used to bend and form metal as well as make large sheets of metal into common shapes. Examples of products which require presses include automobiles, refrigerators, dishwashers, and machines used for laundry. It should come as no surprise that the use of these machines requires not only special training but must have appropriate guarding to ensure the user’s safety.
- Stationary or Portable Power Saws — having guards in place helps reduce the risk of flying debris potentially resulting in a user’s being blinded. Other guarding protects users from potential amputation of fingers or hands.
Guarding may be removed or opened in order to perform maintenance or remove debris, but it must be put back into place to ensure the user and others remain safe.
Machine Guarding and Keeping Employees Safe
There are various types of guarding which is approved for use by the Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Some of these include:
- Physical guards — these guards prevent contact with dangerous parts and may be adjustable, interlocked, fixed, or self-adjusting. These guards ensure a user does not have immediate exposure to any mechanism which can cause serious injury.
- Prevention devices — some of these many include safety trip controls, straps which allow for pullback or restraint, sensing devices which halt the operation of a piece of equipment when motion is detected, gates, or controls which require two-handed operation.
- Feeding and ejection mechanisms — automating these functions helps eliminate the potential a machine operator will come in contact with moving parts of equipment during the handling of materials.
- Machine locations — in some cases, the best method of protecting a machine operator during the operation of a machine is the distance between a machine and the physical work area of a worker. This does work in some cases, but in others it is impractical.
- Additional aids — barriers may be erected around certain pieces of equipment to inform potential users and others in the area of potential hazards. Face shields, tools which handle materials, and other similar devices can be used to protect not only those who are working in the vicinity of equipment, but also protect the user from harm.
Anyone operating a machine in the workplace should be fully trained in safety protocols. Some of the best ways to avoid injury include not wearing clothing which is too loose, ensuring hair is tied back or contained, and training employees to not attempt removal of a jam or other obstruction until the machinery is completely stopped.
Evaluating the Effectiveness of Machine Guarding
Machine guarding must have certain features to protect operators and others, including:
- Prevents contact with machine
- Remains secured to the machine
- Protects the user from falling objects
- Creates no additional hazards
- Does not interfere with normal operation
- Allows for proper machine lubrication without removal of safeguards
Unfortunately, despite OSHA standards, failure to provide appropriate machine guarding is still cited as one of the top 10 causes of workplace safety violations during routine inspections.
We Protect Worker’s Rights to a Safe Work Environment
When you have suffered an injury because your employer failed to provide proper training or has inadequate machine guarding in place, contact Armstrong Law, PLLC today at 214-932-1288 or by filling out our online contact form. Our commitment is to help victims of workplace injuries get the compensation they deserve for the negligence of their employer.