Contact with Object or Equipment Causes Substantial Workplace Fatalities

According to a Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries released by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatal injuries as the result of equipment accidents have increased since the last report.

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Workers who were fatally injured after being struck by equipment or falling objects increased between the year 2011 and the year 2012. In North Carolina work accidents, fatalities resulting from falling objects and contact with equipment were the third leading cause of workplace related deaths in 2012.

The industry most often affected by object and equipment related injuries is the forestry and logging industry. However, many other industries were significant sources of these types of accidents.

Agriculture, Construction and Fabricated metal product manufacturing were industries in which equipment and object injuries were prevalent as well. Some workplace injuries disproportionally affect a particular age group such as transportation accidents and older workers.

However, accidents involving objects and equipment affected all age groups fairly equally. Workplace injuries involving machines can be very dangerous and difficult to prevent but there are clear steps employers can take.

A report by the North Carolina Department of Labor outlines three basic areas that need safeguarding when dangerous machines are involved. These three areas include:

· The Point of Operation – the point where the actual work is performed on the material.
· The Power Transmission Apparatus – this is includes the components of the machine that provide energy to the Point of Operation area of the machine. Many devices can be a part of this portion of the machine including: pulleys, flywheels, belts, couplings, connecting rods, cams, chains, spindles, gears and cranks.
· Other Moving Parts – this encompasses any rotating or reciprocating parts on the machine.

An almost unlimited number of fatal and non-fatal injuries may occur as the result of machinery. These injuries include crushed arms and hands, blindness, and severed limbs.

The types of actions that a machine may perform which lead to bodily injury may include shearing, punching, cutting, and bending.

The most simple and effective way to prevent machine caused injuries is the use of a safeguard, which prevents the worker’s body from coming into contact with the dangerous part of the machine. In order for a safeguard to be effective it must prevent any part of a workers body from making contact with dangerous portions of the machine. But it must also not interfere with job performance.

When a safeguard limits a worker from effectively performing his or her job it will often be overridden or ignored. It is vital that safeguards enhance efficiency by helping an employee feel protected from the machine they are operating.

Safeguards must also not form new hazards for a machine operator. If a safeguard has a jagged edge or unfinished surface it could defeat the purpose of having a safeguard at all.

Another important way to prevent workplace injuries is through the use of effective training for machine operators. If a worker is unfamiliar with the operation of a machine or the safeguards it employs then any safeguards may become completely useless or even dangerous.

It is best for any training to involve a hands-on component so the employee may experience the machine’s proper operation for themselves.

Contact our Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys today by calling 800-887-1965.

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