Thousands of injuries could be prevented. Employees who operate and maintain workplace machinery are at high risk for injury or death. According to industry statistics, machinery accidents cause about 800 deaths a year and 18,000 injuries, ranging from lacerations and abrasions to amputations and crush injuries.
ClaimsJournal.com has highlighted three common myths about machines and safety rules that contribute to the ongoing dangers.
Debunking 3 common myths about workplace machinery
Of the 10 most common OSHA citations, lockout/tagout violations are No. 5 and inadequate or disabled machine guarding is No. 8. Claims Journal, an industry publication, illuminated three misconceptions that put workers in harm's way:
Myth #1: New machines must be safe because they meet the latest safety standards.
Not necessarily. Many machines are built outside of the United States. Buyers have a responsibility to ensure that machinery complies with OSHA regulations and state laws. Many newer machines do not pass inspection relating to sharp edges, electrical shock hazard, emergency turn-offs, and flying sparks and debris.
Myth #2: Older machines are not subject to OSHA rules if they were built before the rule.
Some machinery was grandfathered in until the late '70s, but those exemptions have long ago expired. Since then, all workplace machines must meet minimum OSHA requirements. When the safety regs are updated every five years or so, machines must comply with the new standards.
Myth #3: OSHA safety regulations are just “guidelines”
OSHA regulations, such as 1910.212 General Requirements for Machines, are legal and binding. It is a violation of federal law to ignore these rules, such as removing safety guards or disabling or bypassing lockout/tagout controls.
If you see something that is unsafe, speak up. If your supervisor or employer is willfully ignoring safety regulations, contact your union rep or OSHA regulators. It may save your life or prevent a major injury. In the event of a machinery accident, you should contact an attorney. In addition to a workers' compensation claim, you may have a third-party claim against the manufacturer of a dangerously designed machine.