The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported on June 10 that it had concluded its investigation into an industrial accident that occurred on November 14, 2013. Superior Roll Forming Co. of Valley Center, Ohio, was cited for four serious violations after a worker’s hand was crushed in a 150-ton mechanical power press. OSHA investigators found Superior Roll Forming Co. violated procedures regarding machine guarding and lockout/tagout. Because Superior Roll Forming Co. had been previously cited, OSHA proposed nearly $90,000 in fines and penalties.
Machine Guarding and Lockout/Tagout
Machine guarding and lockout/tagout procedures are two common ways in which employers are able to protect their workers from industrial accidents around machines. Violations of machine guarding and lockout/tagout procedures are also two of the most common violations for which employers are cited by OSHA.
- Machine guarding is a safety feature that is often the first line of defense when it comes to protecting workers. It typically takes the form of a shield or device that covers dangerous areas of a machine designed to prevent workers’ body parts from coming in contact with those dangerous areas. Machine guarding can also keep hazards like materials (such as chips) or noise from exiting the machine and injuring workers.
- Lockout/tagout is a type of machine guarding in that it is designed to protect workers from machines suddenly and unexpectedly starting up and injuring workers during maintenance, servicing, or any other time workers must be in or around dangerous parts of a machine. These procedures usually involving locking the machine or the power source for the machine and putting it in such a position so that it cannot be turned on. A tag is also placed on the locked-out machine, informing others that the machine should not be turned on.
Importance of Machine Guarding
Because of the great danger certain machines pose to workers (such as roll presses), lockout/tagout concepts were introduced and employers required to develop procedures implementing these concepts. Unlike other sorts of industrial accidents, which may result in only minor injuries, injuries caused by industrial machines can result in serious consequences, including:
· Crushing injuries;
· Loss of use of body part;
· Temporary or permanent disability;
· Disfigurement or scarring; and
Compensation Available for Certain Industrial Accidents
An important part of machine guarding and lockout/tagout procedures is that employers are responsible for developing sufficient procedures (or adopting OSHA’s procedures and standards) and then communicating these procedures to employees. Employers who do not develop procedures, do not inform and train their employees in these procedures, or do not take steps to enforce the procedures, can be held responsible for the injuries of their employees.
Proving that an employer is responsible, however, is not an easy task. It often involves delving into the training programs of your employer and interviewing many witnesses, both inside and outside the company. Contact us today at (508) 755-7535 for a free consultation if you have been injured in an industrial machine accident.