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If It’s Dangerous, Safeguard It!

Originally posted August 27, 2013 by Chris Kilbourne on http://safetydailyadvisor.blr.com

The equipment that’s at the heart of many operations may also be at the heart of safety problems—especially amputation hazards.

Amputations are among the most severe and disabling workplace injuries. According to some estimates, the number of annual job-related amputations is about 5,000. That’s an average of almost 14 a day—and that’s a lot.

According to OSHA, the first step in preventing amputations is to ensure that employees can recognize contributing factors.

Three types of mechanical components present amputation hazards:

  • Point of operation
  • Power transmission apparatus
  • Other moving parts

Various types of hazardous mechanical motions and actions can contribute to an amputation, including:

  • Rotating motions
  • Reciprocating (back-and-forth or up-and-down) motions
  • Transversing (continuous-line) motions
  • Cutting action
  • Punching action
  • Shearing action
  • Bending action
  • In-running nip points (pinch points)

According to OSHA, activities that increase the risk of amputations include:

  • Machine set-up/threading/preparation
  • Machine inspection
  • Normal production operations
  • Clearing jams
  • Machine adjustments
  • Machine cleaning
  • Lubricating parts
  • Scheduled and unscheduled maintenance

Safeguards Prevent Injuries

Machine guards—the primary devices for safeguarding equipment and preventing amputations—prevent inadvertent access to hazards in one of several ways:

  • By preventing operation if a hand or body part is placed in the danger area
  • By restraining or withdrawing the hands from the danger area during operation
  • By requiring the use of both hands on machine controls or the use of one hand if the control is mounted a safe distance from the danger area
  • By providing a barrier that is synchronized with the operation cycle to prevent entry to the danger area

For safeguarding specifics, OSHA refers you to ANSI’s Performance Criteria for Safeguarding. This consensus standard provides guidance on design, construction, installation, operation, and maintenance of safeguards.

OSHA also requires that machine safeguarding be supplemented with an effective lockout/tagout program that ensures employees are protected from hazardous energy sources during service and maintenance.

When equipment and employees interact properly, the result is safety, productivity, and quality. But when those interactions are risky due to unsafe equipment or unsafe actions on the part of employees, the result can be tragic.

Your site might not have experienced at equipment-related incident or been cited by OSHA for machine safety violations, but to maintain that status, you must stay vigilant and make sure employees who work with machinery do too.