How important is machine guarding in the workplace? What can happen when employers fail to properly protect their employees from entanglements and entrapments in moving machinery? Machine guarding is essential for worker protecting workers. Properly installed and maintained guards prevent direct contact with moving parts, catch shrapnel in case of mechanical failure, and protect workers from coming into contact with electrical components. When employers fail to ensure proper machine guarding, they negligently place their workers at risk of serious injury or death.
Understanding the Types of Approved Guards
There are four types of acceptable guards within American workplaces. These include fixed, interlocked, adjustable, and self-adjusting. Fixed guards provide an immovable barrier that can endure repeated impacts. Interlocked barriers shut-off or disengage power when the guard is opened. Adjustable barriers can be moved depending on operational requirements. Self-adjusting barriers move themselves depending on the operations being conducted.
Injuries Caused by Improper Guarding
Failure to use, install, or maintain guards can result in serious injury or death when workers are entangled within moving machinery, crushed by material, or electrocuted following contact with exposed wires. In 2017, 1,933 citations were issued by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration for failure to adhere to machine guarding standards. Improper machine guarding was the 8th most commonly cited workplace safety violation cited by OSHA in the past year.
Workers in the manufacturing sector are at greatest risk of serious injury or death. In 2017, more than 2,000 workers suffered injuries stemming from missing, malfunctioning, or inadequate machine guarding. These injuries include crushed fingers and hands and limb amputations. Nationwide, workers in manufacturing have a rate of 1.7 amputations per 10,000 full-time workers which is twice the rate of all workers in private industry.
OSHA estimates that improper guarding is responsible for a total of 18,000 amputations, electrocutions, crushing injuries, lacerations, and more than 800 workplace fatalities per year. Employers who fail to protect their workers from these workplace hazards can be held liable for the work related injuries, lost wages, loss of quality of life, and wrongful deaths that result from their negligence.
Were You Injured In a Workplace Accident? Call Today for Help
Here at Brad Pistotnik Law, we commonly handle cases involving workplace injuries, whether they were a result of an OSHA violation, or our client simply needs to ensure that he or she is getting maximum coverage from worker's compensation benefits. If you've been injured in the workplace because of a violation of safety standards, we can help you too. Give us a call today to set up a free consultation to review your case.