Machine safeguards are there to prevent amputated fingers and hands, crushed limbs and damaged eyes — but there are some important rules regarding safeguards that every company should follow.
Give Employees Sufficient Training
Safeguards won’t do their job if employees don’t recognize their purpose and turns them off or removes them.
Before being allowed access to any new piece of machinery, employees should be given a clear walk-through of how its safeguard works and exactly what dangers the safeguard is designed to provide.
In addition, employees need to be reminded of the company policy about removing or disabling safeguards, even if those safeguards are malfunctioning or slowing down operations.
Finally, employees need to be educated on whatever protective equipment or clothing they need to wear while operating the specific machine in question. That means covering, in detail, what the limits of the mechanical safeguards are and why the additional personal protective gear is necessary — whether it’s a pair of heavy gloves or noise-blocking headphones and a hardhat.
Employees also need instruction on personal safety steps. For example, long hair may need to be pulled back and secured behind an employee’s head, wedding rings and bracelets may need to be removed for hand safety and loose clothing may need tucked in so that it can’t catch in any pieces of equipment.
Identify Top Nonmechanical Hazards
Different pieces of machinery often present unique nonmechanical hazards as well. Those also have to be addressed in order for employees to have a clear understanding of what dangers they might encounter. Otherwise, an employee can walk into a lethal situation entirely unprepared.
Power sources for any safeguards should be identified and employees should be taught to recognize when the safeguards are properly grounded. They should also be taught to examine the electrical components for exposed wires or frayed coverings.
If the machinery in question uses any particular types of cutting fluids, coolants or potentially dangerous chemicals as part of its operational process, it’s important to explain to employees (including maintenance workers) exactly what dangers they face through exposure to those fluids. That helps individual employees understand the necessity for gloves, a face mask or other protective gear when working with the machine or cleaning it.
If you weren’t given enough information about workplace safety and ended up in an accident because of it, a workers’ compensation attorney can help you learn more about your rights and legal options.
Source: United States Department of Labor, “Chapter 1 – Basics of Machine Safeguarding,” accessed July 03, 2017