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Mechanical Hazards Can Cause Severe Injury, Here’s What You Need to Know

Each piece of machinery has its own unique mechanical and non-mechanical hazards. Machines can cause severe injuries: amputations, fractures, lacerations, or crushing injuries. Machines can also cause minor injuries such as bruises, abrasions, sprains or strains, burns, or cuts.

Examples of mechanical hazards that can hit, grab, or trap an operator are:

  • Hazard Motions –

Includes rotating machine parts, reciprocating motions (sliding parts or up/down motions), and transverse motions (materials moving in a continuous line).

  • Points of Operation –

The areas where the machine cuts, shapes, bores, or forms the stock being fed through it.

  • Pinch Points and Shear Points –

Areas where a part of the body can be caught between a moving part and a stationary object.

A wide variety of mechanical motions and actions may present hazards to the worker.

The basic types of hazardous mechanical motions and actions are:

  • Hazardous motions – rotating, reciprocating, traversing
  • Hazardous actions – cutting, punching, shearing, bending

Examples of non-mechanical hazards that can injure operators, or other people in the area, include chips, splashes, sparks, or sprays that are created as the machine is running.

Machine entrapment injuries can be severe.

It is always important to follow your company’s procedures for calling emergency medical personnel and for reporting these injuries properly.  It is also important to follow machine operation instructions because they can help reduce the risk of injury by properly explaining a machine’s operations and how to recognize malfunctions. Employees who follow the machine’s operating instructions ensure that the machine is being run correctly and safely. This includes all machine safety features and guards.

Although OSHA does not specify training requirements under the machine guarding regulations, the General Duty Clause requires that employers provide a safe work environment. Employees who understand mechanical hazards can protect themselves from those hazards and help reduce the potential for costly, long term work related injuries.

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