Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Machine Guards -- Keeping Minnesota Manufacturing Workers Safe

Machines that bend, form, or cut metal or wood, such as punch presses, brake presses, metal stamps, lathes, saws, or drill presses, are obviously powerful enough to cause serious damage to human flesh and bone.

Manufacturing workers who sustain serious injuries in machine accidents most commonly suffer amputations, lacerations, crush injuries, fractures, or de-gloving injuries.

OSHA requires that guarding must be provided to protect operators and other employees in the machine area from hazards such as those created by the point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips, and sparks. OSHA specifically requires that shears, power presses, milling machines, and power saws have guarding at the point of operation, or the area where work is performed on the material being processed. These kinds of machines are most often involved in amputation injuries.

Machine injuries are usually caused by:
  • Contact or entanglement with machinery
  • Being trapped between the machine and material or fixed structure
  • Contact with material in motion
  • Being struck by ejected parts of machinery
  • Being struck by material ejected from machine
  • Release of potential energy
Safeguards should meet the following five minimum requirements:

Prevent contact: The safeguard must prevent hands, arms, and any other part of a operator's body from making contact with dangerous moving parts. A good safeguarding system eliminates the possibility of the operator or another worker placing parts of their bodies near hazardous moving parts.

Secure: Operators should not be able to easily remove or tamper with the safeguard, because a safeguard that can easily be made ineffective is no safeguard at all. Guards and safety devices should be made of durable material that will withstand the conditions of normal use. They must be firmly secured to the machine.

Protect from falling objects: The safeguard should ensure that no objects can fall into moving parts. A small tool dropped into a cycling machine could easily become a projectile that could strike and injure someone.

Create no new hazards: A safeguard defeats its own purpose if it creates a hazard such as a shear point, a jagged edge, or an unfinished surface that could cause a laceration. The edges of guards, for instance, should be rolled or bolted in such a way to eliminate sharp edges.
Create no interference: Any safeguard that impedes an operator from performing the job quickly and comfortably might soon be overridden or disregarded. Proper safeguarding may actually enhance efficiency since it relieves the operator's apprehensions about injury.

Allow safe lubrication: If possible, workers should be able to lubricate the machine without removing the safeguards. Locating oil reservoirs outside the guard, with a line leading to the lubrication point, will reduce the need for the operator or maintenance operator to enter the hazardous area.

To avoid catastrophic injury, keep these general guidelines in mind:
  • Check that guards are in place at all points where you could contact moving parts before turning the machine on.
  • Report any missing or malfunctioning guards. Never use a machine with a missing or malfunctioning guard. Shut the machine down and tag it out. Do not use it again until the problem is fixed.
  • Use lockout/tagout procedures when guards must be removed to repair or service a machine.
  • Check machines after repair or maintenance to be sure guards are back in place and working properly.
If you’re a Minnesota worker who’s been injured due to a machine accident, you are most likely entitled to Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits, including medical expense benefits, wage loss benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, and/or rehabilitation benefits.

Make sure you protect your rights if you are injured on the job. For a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your Minnesota workers’ compensation rights contact Meuser & Associates toll free at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email.
Related Posts with Thumbnails