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Ensuring Employee Safety With Machine Guards

Mar 24, 2008
In the United States, there are millions of workers that endure hard labor jobs, which require physical interaction with machines to build, develop, construt or weld together buildings, cars, etc. However, thousands of those workers are injured on the job annually. One of the most common types of workplace injuries occurs when machine operators suffer amputations, lacerations, de-gloving or other serious injuries from the operation of machinery, which is not properly guarded.

Moving machine parts can cause severe injuries. Machine guards are essential to protect workers from preventable injuries. Whenever the operation of a machine can injure the operator or others, the hazards must be either eliminated or designed out of a product.

If this is not possible and the hazard cannot be eliminated, it must be guarded against and a warning must be provided to avoid the hazard. This is often referred to as the "Engineering Hierarchy": design out, guard against and warn.

Many guarding principles have been in use in the industry for over 100 years. For example, the first patent for an interlocking guard was awarded in 1899 for a power press. However, while guarding technology has been readily available for decades, many manufacturers fail to avail itself of basic safety engineering that could save lives and prevent needless suffering and tragedy. Because of this neglect or disregard for a company's employees, the creation of a employee compensation lawsuit may occur to bring safety to a workplace and dissolve remaing threats.

There are many types of guards that are appropriate for different products depending on the use for which the product is intended. Some examples of guards include fixed barrier guards, movable interlocking guards, and light curtains and sensors that detect the entry of fingers or the operator's hands.

Machine guarding cases involving serious injury due to improper guarding often involve situations where a product had a poorly designed guard that was removed exposing the operator to serious injury. If the manufacturer could have, and should have reasonably expected that the guard would be removed, the removal of the guard does not shield the manufacturer from liability.

Additionally, if a company does not fit hazardous machines with safety gear, workers should be advised to contact a law firm that is experienced in developing employee safety lawsuits. When an employer refuses to ensure the safety of its workers, or merely disregards the safety of its workers, they can be held responsible.
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