While conducting the initial web research on the subject of worksite injuries caused by equipment, the majority of the results I found came from law firms. This fact alone speaks volumes about these types of incidents: there are legions of attorneys just waiting to pounce on a company for allowing an accident to happen on their watch.
According to OSHA’s statistics, 30 percent of injuries occur when a worker is attempting remove objects that have become jammed in machinery. Another 29 percent occur while machinery is being cleaned. These figures help explain why fully 88 percent of all worksite injuries are caused by moving machine parts.
In many cases, these problems occur not as a result of negligence, but because a worker was trying to save time, didn’t think they needed to turn off the power before attempting to make fixes, or couldn’t fix the machine with the power off—reasons that OSHA ranks among the most commonly reported by workers following an accident.
These problems point to the need for two things: proper, timely preventive maintenance, and thorough OSHA training.
Although some issues are always bound to arise while operating a piece of machinery, proper preventive maintenance can make them significantly less frequent, and assigning maintenance work to trained professionals will reduce errors resulting from inadequate knowledge of how a given machine works.
If machines are regularly jamming, or frequently failing due to dirt and debris accumulation, this may be a sign that there are more fundamental problems that need to be addressed—a weak motor or cracked housing, for instance. Even if workers don’t attempt to fix these machines themselves, sudden machine failure can also cause injuries.
With the economy continuing to gain momentum, workloads will start to increase and companies that do not have an effective system for organizing their maintenance can easily fall behind, exposing them to unacceptable levels of injury risk. Maintenance schedules that are calibrated with overall production levels, by contrast, will help companies identify problems early and address them before they become critical emergencies.
The other key is to ensure that staff is fully OSHA trained, which will help emphasize the risks associated with performing on-the-fly fixes that could result in serious injury. Workers who are well versed in the many different OSHA regulations regarding machine safety will be much more likely to think twice before reaching into a machine while it’s running, or otherwise put themselves at risk.
Likewise, managers who are aware of the risks associated with malfunctioning machinery will know what to look for and intervene if they see workers engaging in unsafe practices. Above all, companies must be aware and proactive if they want to avoid the biggest consequences stemming from injuries.
Disclaimer: The information contained herein is solely the opinion of the author and shall not be construed to be the opinion or views of OSHAcampus or 360training, including any employer of author, if any.