In May 2014, a long-time employee of Alpha Baking Co. Inc. was killed by a piece of unguarded baking machinery.
According to reports from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the 31-year-old employee was attempting to check the oil level of an encoder gearbox at the time of the incident. When he placed his head into the gearbox area, the gear arm rotated unexpectedly and hit him in the head.
Are Machine Guards Necessary?
Moving machine parts can lead to serious lacerations, crushing injuries, amputations and even death. OSHA requires proper machine guarding for most heavy machinery, but unguarded machinery still injures and kills thousands of workers every year.
Alpha management later discovered that the machine was guarded, but the protections had been removed for maintenance and never replaced. This and other amputation hazards led OSHA to issue another citation for the facility’s lack of lockout/tagout procedures.
What Are Lockout/Tagout Procedures?
If a machine is undergoing maintenance or repair, employees are required to turn the machine off and remove it from its power source (when possible). Workers should also be advised to label the machine as non-functioning or “out of service” until it is fully operational again.
OSHA mandates machine guards and proper maintenance procedures to protect workers from serious injury, but it is up to management to enforce regulations. If they allow workers to cut corners for time or money, the results could be catastrophic and even fatal.
If you are being forced to work without the proper protections, your rights are being violated. Do not allow your employer to place profits above your health.
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[Did You Know:
Since 1970, workplace fatalities have been reduced by more than 65 percent.]
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC
—Columbus Workers Comp Attorneys