In Ohio and elsewhere, chasing profits make good companies do bad things. An example is saving money by not installing the necessary safety guards for machines. Also, sometimes factory-installed guarding is removed to speed up production. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more than 800 lives are lost each year across the country due to the lack of machine guarding. This safety violation also causes about 18,000 lacerations, amputations, abrasions and crushing injuries annually.
Workers must check for the presence of machine guards before they use a machine. Often, maintenance and repairs are handled by someone else who may neglect to put guards back that were removed for the servicing. One or more of the following guards must be in place to prevent workers from contact with moving parts.
- Fixed guards: These include safety fences, permanent covers and barriers that prevent unauthorized access to specific machines or equipment.
- Adjustable guards: Similar to fixed guards, but they function only when specific parts move.
- Interlocked guards: Fences, gates and protective covers that use pneumatic, mechanical, hydraulic or electrical power that shuts off the machine if the guard is removed or opened, and restarted when it is replaced.
- Self-adjusting guards: These are fixed barriers between the danger zone and the machine operator, with limited space that only allows specific materials to pass through.
- Lockout/tagout: This procedure de-energizes equipment to prevent accidental start-up during repairs or maintenance procedures.
Employees in Ohio’s manufacturing industry can refuse to work on equipment without the necessary guards to protect them from moving parts. Injured workers may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages. Those whose injuries cause permanent disability, such as amputations, will receive additional benefits.