Each industry has specific hazards that risk the lives of workers. When it comes to machine operators in industrial plants, the lack of machine guards is unacceptable. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, approximately 18,000 machine operators in Ohio and across the country suffer lacerations, abrasions, crushing and amputation injuries each year. Furthermore, every year, more than 800 such accidents are fatal.
Fixed guards on machines provide permanent physical barriers. However, they tend to limit visibility, often prompting operators to remove the guards. Furthermore, they must be removed during maintenance and repairs. The second type is interlocked guards that cut off energy and shut down the machine if the operator opens the guard. The machine will only work again once the safety guard is replaced. They use hydraulic, electrical, pneumatic or mechanical power.
Another option similar to the fixed guard is an adjustable guard. The danger posed by these guards is the fact that workers could adjust them for different jobs, and it will not deactivate power. Therefore, operators’ hands can enter areas where moving or rotating parts pose amputation risks. In contrast, self-adjusting guards provide more protection because it allows only the material to pass through dangerous spaces.
Lockout/tagout guards protect workers from unexpected activation during maintenance and repair services. Although this system provides total protection, it can only be effective if used correctly. Employers of machine operators in Ohio must provide the necessary protection from flying chips, sparks, rotating parts, ingoing nip points and other points of operation. Workers who suffered such injuries will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to cover their medical expenses and a portion of lost wages.