The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited a Wilmington FedEx shipping center for exposing employees to injuries. OSHA personnel inspecting the site found that rotating parts on conveyer belt systems were not properly guarded. This left moving parts on the conveyor belt system exposed to employees, which could result in pinching or crushing injuries, concussions, and potentially loss of limbs. This was the third time FedEx had been cited for this sort of violation and resulted in a fine of $44,000.
Dangers of Conveyor Belts
There are three main types of conveyor systems, classified according to how an item is moved along the system: belt or chain systems, roller systems, and screw (auger) systems. Each type of conveyor belt system has many moving parts that can cause injuries. For example:
- A worker attempted to clear debris from the underside of a belt system with a stick. When the stick became caught in the rear (or “tail”) spool of the conveyor system, the worker attempted to hold onto the stick. The worker’s arm became caught in the conveyor system, requiring an amputation of that arm.
- A female employee was working alongside a “roller-type” conveyor system. When something fell beneath the conveyor system, the worker bent down to retrieve this item. Her hair became caught in the conveyor system, resulting in scalp bruising and abrasions.
- Another worker was using a “chipper-type” conveyer system. He attempted to clear a jam in the system when his arm became caught in the teeth of the rollers on the system. The worker’s arm was pulled into the system and was torn off at the shoulder.
Safety Around Conveyor Systems
FedEx was cited by OSHA for failing to take measures to protect workers from the dangers of their conveyor systems. This would include:
- Ensuring that “lockout/tagout” procedures are in place and are followed when maintaining and servicing the conveyor system;
- Requiring employees to pull back hair and secure loose clothing to reduce the chance of a worker becoming caught in a system;
- Only allowing authorized and properly trained maintenance personnel to service and maintain conveyor systems;
- Properly training employees on how to safely operate conveyor systems, including training on how to safely work around the system, how to shut the system down in case of an emergency, and who should be informed of safety violations or concerns;
- Ensuring conveyor systems are properly maintained and that moving parts are shielded or guarded so that it is difficult for employees’ clothing or body parts to become caught in the conveyor’s moving parts;
Contact a Jobsite Injury Attorney if You or a Loved One Becomes Injured
If you or a loved one becomes injured on the jobsite, it is important to contact a workplace injury attorney right away. Most workplace injuries are compensable under the Massachusetts workers’ compensation program; however, additional damages may be available if the employer willfully creates an unsafe working environment (such as when the employer ignores several OSHA warnings or citations). Additionally, a third party claim might also exist when a person, company or firm, separate and distinct from the injured party’s employer, acted negligently so as to cause an accident or injury.