A factory worker had to have part of an arm and four fingers amputated after a machinery accident in a vinyl flooring workplace. The worker was attempting to remove a jam from a lamination machine when his arm and hand became stuck inside. This industrial incident was the third at the same job site involving serious injury due to faulty equipment and lack of regular routine inspection.
Employers who fail to implement the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s safety regulations and standards contribute to job site disasters. According to OSHA, heavy equipment and machinery-related accidents are leading causes of death and catastrophic injuries for industrial and construction workers.
Ignoring Regulations Puts Employees at Risk
As part of its post-accident investigation, OSHA found numerous workplace hazards in violation of federal safety standards, such as:
- A lack of protection against hazardous chemicals used for cleaning
- Inadequate guardrails on heavy machinery
- Exposure to rotating machinery parts and shafts
One way for employers to prevent job site accidents is to implement additional safety measures on and around heavy machinery. OSHA requires all machinery to have safety barriers to reduce the chances of workers coming into contact with moving parts. Additional features, such as machine safeguarding, aid in this effort by adding another level of protection between machine and worker.
What is Machine Safeguarding?
Machine guarding describes safety measures for heavy machinery with exposed, moving parts that could potentially harm a worker. Safeguards serve to protect workers from coming into direct contact with moving parts that could inflict a serious injury, such as amputation. In addition, safeguards prevent machine byproducts from becoming projectiles like shrapnel.
Many employees who work with heavy machinery daily may not know about the legal requirement of machine safeguards to protect them. OSHA found workers who operate unguarded industrial machinery suffered 18,000 recorded cases of amputations, lacerations, crush injuries, abrasions, and over 800 deaths.
Workers’ Right to a Safe Environment
Regardless of the job a worker is performing, he or she has the right to a safe work environment. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employees have the right to:
- Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
- Receive information and training (in a language and vocabulary the worker understands) about workplace hazards, methods to prevent them, and the applicable OSHA standards.
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- File a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA’s rules. OSHA will keep all identities confidential.
- Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation, including reporting an injury or raising health and safety concerns with their employer or OSHA.
Workers should never have to choose between keeping their jobs and staying safe. Retaliation from employers is a real and common fear held by many employees; however, under federal law employees have the right to request an OSHA investigation of their workplace if they feel they are being put in harm’s way.
Workplace Injury Attorneys
Craft Law Firm has an unmatched depth of experience investigation heavy machinery accidents and successfully handling products liability litigation. Our trial lawyers know how best to handle each individual matter from start to finish. Contact us for more information on how we can help.