In 2002, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 92,560 injuries, which resulted in lost time from work, were caused by machinery. The agency ranked the top injury causing machines according to the number of accidents that occurred during their use:
1. Metal, woodworking and special materials machinery (19,269 injuries)
2. Material handling machinery (16,183 injuries)
3. Special process machinery (15,576 injuries)
4. Heating, cooling and cleaning machinery (13,330 injuries)
5. Unspecified machinery (6,148 injuries)
6. Construction, logging and mining machinery (6,069 injuries)
The BLS also found that machinery was the chief source of fatal occupational injuries in 483 of the 5,915 fatalities during 2002.
If you use machinery as part of your employment, you need to know how to protect yourself from the hazards that machines pose. The following list of guidelines for correct machine use was compiled by Wake Forest University:
1. Wear safety glasses, goggles or safety shields designed for the type of machine work being done.
2. Be sure that all machines have effective and proper working guards.
3. Replace guards immediately after any repairs.
4. Do not attempt to oil, clean, adjust or repair any machine while it is running.
5. Do not leave a machine while it is running. Someone else may not notice it is still running, and be injured.
6. Do not try to stop the machine with your hands or body.
7. Always see that work and cutting tools on any machine are clamped securely before starting.
8. Get help when handling long or heavy pieces of material.
9. When working with another person, only one should operate the machine or switches.
10. Do not lean against the machine.
11. Concentrate on the work and the machine at all times; it only takes a moment for an accident to occur.
12. Do not talk to others while they are operating a machine.
13. Be sure you have sufficient light to see clearly when doing any job.
14. Wear short sleeves or roll sleeves up above the elbow.
15. Don’t wear bracelets, rings, etc., when operating machines.
16. Never use compressed air for cleaning machinery.
Keep in mind that although your company may be extremely diligent about guarding machinery, you must still exercise caution because there are some operations that cannot be completely guarded. You should also remember that even though machines are equipped with guards, it is still possible to get your hands and fingers in a machine’s danger zone.
Adhering to these guidelines and any additional ones that your company has in place should lessen the chances of a workplace machinery-related accident happening to your or your co-workers.