Even though most people are well-trained on the machines that they use, serious injuries can still occur. A study was completed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) regarding injuries in the workplace. According to the results, which took place over a 5-year period:
- Over 34,000 people sustain an injury in the workplace every year due to machine accidents which results in missed time from work.
- Over 11,000 injuries per year are reported due to severe lacerations.
- Close to 5,000 people sustain amputation injuries at work annually while using machinery.
- Serious contusions or bruises occur in close to 3,000 people per year.
- Chronic pain leads to missed time in around 400 people per year.
Even though these injuries are serious, it is important to note that over 6,000 people are also killed every year while using machines at work. According to the same study, workers are killed doing a variety of activities. Examples include:
- Operating a heavy machine (45 percent of reported fatalities).
- Performing routine maintenance on equipment (20 percent of reported deaths).
- Removing a jam from a machine (10 percent of cases).
- Walking past a machine in operation (4 percent of cases).
- Other, including adjusting a machine, cleaning it, or performing an inspection.
Most of the deaths referenced above result from machine entanglement. The sad point is that many of these deaths are preventable.
Entanglement Injuries Can Happen Quickly
Unfortunately, when it comes to entanglement injuries, people often do not have time to react. Statistics show that:
- The human body can take anywhere from ½ to ¾ of a second to respond to anything, such as a starting gun for a race.
- Machines often spin more than 500 RPM.
- At this speed, an entangled person can be pulled 5 feet or more in less than a second.
- This can lead to a fatality before the human body has reacted.
People can sustain severe injuries in the workplace before anyone even knows that they have become entangled, let alone removed. Common places that people can become entangled include:
- Pinch points: Examples of pinch points include elevator leg drives, motors, auger motors, sliding doors of machines, gears, and pulleys.
- Wrap points: Examples include the gears of an auger, the shafts of spinning motors, and any attachment to various pulleys.
- Pull-in points: Common machines with “pull-in” points include crop harvesters, grinders, and lathes.
- Shear points or cutting points where there are sharp edges on moving parts.
Depending on the type of machine, people can sustain a wide variety of injuries and even death.
Examples of Entanglement Injuries
Even though statistics regarding entanglement injuries are striking, individual case reports with injury descriptions can prove to be powerful. Some of the published case reports regarding entanglement injuries include:
- A man became entangled in a grain auger at the waist level. He was crawling over the equipment and was grabbed by the auger. He subsequently died of his injuries.
- Two children were using an auger and were both caught and grabbed by the equipment. They each had a leg amputated as a result of the accident.
- A middle-aged man on the farm was caught in a grain auger and subsequently killed. At the time, he was cleaning the auger when the machine started spinning, entangling him in the process.
Unfortunately, the list of entanglement injuries and fatalities is never-ending.
Prevention of Machine Entanglement Fatalities and Injuries
There are several steps that people can take to prevent these tragic injuries from occurring:
- Avoid wearing loose clothing. Often, loose pieces of clothing are “grabbed” by the machine and reel the person in. Make sure that all clothing fits tightly.
- Remove all loose jewelry. Anything with a long string (such as a necklace) or large loops (such as hoop earrings) can be quickly grabbed by a machine.
- Wear all long hair in a bun. Similar to clothing, hair can be grabbed and become stuck in a machine as well.
- Turn off all machines and ensure that their stop-times are correct before performing any work on them.
- Do not try to step in, over, or around moving parts. Simply avoid the machine or stop it before nearing it.
Watch YouTube Video: Six Steps to Machine Safety Video. This animated video provides six steps on how to identify hazards and reduce risks while working on heavy machinery at the workplace.
Machine Accident Lawyers in Sacramento
I’m Ed Smith, a machine accident lawyer in Sacramento. When working with heavy machinery, safety comes first. If you or a family member has suffered been injured at work, contact me for a free consultation at 916-584-9355.
I’ve assisted many different clients in the Northern California region with wrongful death & personal injury cases for the past 36 years. I represent injured individuals and their loved ones while helping them receive the compensation that they deserve.
Image Citation: The photo at the start of this post was located originally Pixabay.com The image has been shown at this location via the Creative Commons License, version CC0.
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