Every year, nearly 18,000 machine tool operators suffer injuries such as amputations, lacerations, crushing injuries, and abrasions. And tool accidents in machine shops, repair facilities, and factories result in about 800 deaths per year.
There are many causes of such accidents. But according to Rockford Systems, LLC., a provider of machine safeguarding products and services, there are three major reasons for machine tool accidents:
1. Manufacturers’ misunderstandings of OSHA machine safeguarding requirements
2. Inadequate training of machine tool operators or operators’ inattentiveness while using machinery
3. The mistaken belief that OSHA regulations are only guidelines, not the law
Myths About Machine Tool Safety
Manufacturers of lathes, milling machines, planers, grinders and other machine tools have long incorporated safety devices on their products. In addition, OSHA has established its Machine Guard Standard 1910.212, which mandates safety guards. Despite the presence of these long-standing devices and standards, an article in Claims Journal cites these myths believed by many in the machining industry:
Myth 1: Manufacturers now build machines that meet the latest safety regulations.
Truth: Many machine tools being marketed in the U.S. do not meet OSHA regulations. Some are manufactured overseas, and are built to standards that do not comply with either ANSI B11.19-2010 or European Union standards.
Myth 2: Old machines are grandfathered in and do not have to comply with OSHA standards.
Truth: When OSHA was first established, some machines were grandfathered in, but that is no longer the case. Machine shops must now comply with safety standards either by modifying old equipment to meet existing standards or else purchase new equipment.
Myth 3: OSHA regulations are only guidelines and not the law.
Truth: This widely held belief is false. All employers are responsible for maintaining a safe and healthful workplace. That means compliance with OSHA safety regulations and the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. That legislation requires employers to keep their premises free of serious recognized hazards. Safety standards change on a regular basis, and employers must comply.
In 2015, OSHA fined U.S. machine shops $6.8 million for violations of Machine Guard Standard 1910.212. But that figure pales in comparison to the losses of machine tool operators who suffer life-changing injuries such as amputation or disfigurement, or the families of workers who die every year.
Machine tool operators who have suffered workplace injuries or families of fatal work accident victims should speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.