Machine Guarding is Lacking at Work

Machine Guarding is Lacking at Work

When people work with heavy machinery, it is important to always place safety first. Even though heavy machines can make previously difficult jobs run more efficiently, these machines are also capable of causing serious injuries. Based on information published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) back in 2015:

  • Looking specifically at workers who manufacture heavy metals using machinery, 132 individuals out of every 10,000 workers reported missing time due to a machine injury.
  • When compared to the country as a whole, this rate was found to be 13 times above the average.
  • Furthermore, every 3 out of 10,000 workers suffers an amputation injury.
  • When looking at the country as a whole, this is more than four times greater than the country’s average
  • In 2013, the BLS charted more than 6,000 amputation injuries.

Unfortunately, there have been studies noting that there may also be numerous unreported injuries. These statistics should demonstrate just how dangerous it is to work with heavy machinery. There have been some reasons proposed for the high rate of injuries and amputations with heavy machinery. Past studies have noted:

  • Employee training could be inadequate.
  • Workers could be using machines that have damaged parts.
  • Employers might not be performing routine maintenance on machines.
  • There could be a lack of adequate guarding of these machines.

A study was recently completed that looked specifically at the presence or absence of sufficient protection and guards around dangerous machines. The results show that there could be a lack of adequate barriers around hazardous equipment.

The Rate of Machine Guarding is Inadequate

A team of researchers conducted an extensive review called the National Machine Guarding Program (NMGP). This program was performed using trained insurance safety consultants who specialize in machine guarding. They used standardized checklists to analyze countless machines spread across more than 220 businesses. The lists are readily available in the study. The results of the study showed that:

  • Safeguards at the “point of operation,” meaning where the machine performs its primary “action” (such as grinding), were absent on more than a third of machines.
  • The safeguards for other mechanical hazards at other locations on the machine were missing on more than a quarter of devices surveyed.
  • There was a notable skew with older machines, showing that they were less likely to be adequately protected than newer devices.
  • There were also many older machines in use where newer models were available.
  • Proper lockout and tagout procedures were posted on less than 10 percent of machines.

This study demonstrates that a complete review and overhaul of mechanical safety is needed. Specifically, proper training is required in lockout and tagout procedures because this can place employees in harm’s way unnecessarily.

The Importance of Lockout and Tagout Procedures

One of the major focuses of the study was the absence of lockout and tagout procedures.  Lockout and tagout refer to the process of disconnecting heavy machinery from their energy sources before working on them. Conspicuous signage needs to be put in place that signals the dangers of the machine and the energy sources used. If someone works on a machine while it is still connected to an energy source, the machine could turn on without warning. This could lead to severe injuries or even fatalities. Lockout and tagout need to be followed to prevent these injuries from occurring.

Injury Prevention is Key

While there has been a lot of focus on the treatment of serious workplace injuries, prevention is both less expensive and more effective. This study highlighted the inadequacies surrounding safeguards of machines, specifically with the lockout and tagout regulations. The Department of Occupational Health and Safety published clear guidelines regarding machine safeguards and lockout/tagout. By following these recommendations, employees can be kept safe, and citations will be minimized. It is crucial for employers to place adequate warning signs and barriers around dangerous machines.

Watch YouTube Video: Machine Guards Safety Training Video – Safetycare free preview – Equipment Guarding Workplace Safety. This short video provides a preview of machine guards safety in the workplace.

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Machine Accident Lawyers in Sacramento

I’m Ed Smith, a machine accident lawyer in Sacramento. Heavy machinery must be marked appropriately. If you or someone you care about has been injured using a machine at work, contact me for a free consultation at 916-584-9355.

I’ve helped many people in the Northern California area with wrongful death & personal injury over the past 36 years. I work hard for injured individuals and their families to help them earn the compensation that they deserve.

Image Citation: The picture for this post is saved on Pixabay.com The image is shown here via the Creative Commons License, version CC0.

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