Reducing Virginia Workplace Hazards and Injuries by Using Machine Guards | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Attorneys with our Virginia personal injury law firm handle many workplace hazard cases, some of which involve the amputation of legs, arms, hands and fingers. Although amputation injuries have been decreasing over the years, more than 6,200 work-related amputations occurred during 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Our experience representing employees injured on the job, has taught us that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires special guarding for any machine part, function or process that may cause an injury such as cutting off a thumb to employees and operators.  Three common approaches to machine guarding are using barriers, installing guarding devices and posting warnings.

A barrier guard creates a physical separation between a machine’s user and the parts that can cause injuries. While effective, barrier guards are often removed because they can make using a piece of machinery inconvenient, which slows down production. The best type of barrier guard is one attached to a machine in such a way that a worker cannot removed it.

Guarding devices include mechanical or electronic control workers or supervisors can use to stop the moving parts of a machine when doing so can help prevent or limit an injury. The devices can take the form of switches that require two hands to operate, pull cords and buttons, and more than one person may have to act in order to kill a machine that presents hazard. These devices  devices do not prevent workers from touching the machinery, but installing them and making sure they work properly can be essential for ensuring employees’ safety.

Warnings are another important component to have on hazardous work objects. The warnings should never be the only safety precaution on the hazardous equipment, posting them in highly visible locations helps inform and remind people of workplace dangers.  Safety precautions should be taken in any area where hazardous machines are used. Doing so helps prevent serious injuries in the workplace.