Every year throughout the country there are more than 18,000 cases of machinery workers being injured. Poorly maintained machines or the careless operation of them can lead to California workers having their limbs crushed, cut or amputated, which is why OSHA requires that the dangerous areas of machinery be guarded.
There are roughly four types of machine guards. First are fixed guards and adjustable guards, both of which are permanent fixtures on machines. Then there are self-adjusting guards, which adapt to the size of the material that’s going through the machine. Last are interlocking, or barrier, guards. These automatically shut the machine off when workers need to reach into it.
Regardless of the type of guards that a machine comes with, workers should be properly trained on their operation. Workers should also know to inspect machinery each time before use and follow lockout/tagout procedures in cases where machinery is unexpectedly energized. Procedures should be in place for setting up machinery, lubricating its parts and clearing any jams.
Damaged guards and machinery must be clearly labeled so that other workers stay away. Only a trained and designated individual should be allowed to remove and repair guards. By taking these steps, employers should be able to prevent almost all machine-related injuries.
Many workplace injuries occur regardless of fault. In any event, injured workers can still be reimbursed for their losses. The workers’ compensation program can cover wage replacement, all medical expenses and any short- or long-term disability leave. Whatever their situation, victims may do well to hire a lawyer for guidance with the claim and any appeals.