A newly released study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that more than 34,000 people sustain a lost-time injury in the workplace annually due to machine accidents. Additionally, the Occupational Safety & Health Association (OSHA) included the lack of machine safeguarding in its "Top Ten List" of frequently cited employee safety violations of 2019, with 1,743 violations issued.
While machines play a critical role in the production process and allow employees to work with less effort, they are inherently dangerous. From grinders to milling machines, industrial machines are designed to operate at high speeds and pressures. Without safeguarding in place, any physical contact with a machine's moving parts can result in severe injuries and even death.
"Nearly 50 years after OSHA established its General Requirements for all Machines (29 CFR 1910.212), injuries continue in machine shops," said Carrie Halle, vice president of marketing and business development for Rockford Systems, a supplier of machine safeguarding and combustion safety solutions. "Our research has indicated that approximately half of all machine shops are still not guarded. Coupled with a lack of operator training, this creates a working environment that is high risk for both employees and employers."
Halle said that the first step to a safer workplace is to conduct a risk assessment of all machinery on the shop floor, as well as to document the procedures used by the operators. A risk assessment is a proven, methodical tool to identify, assess, and document the hazards of operating machinery, as well as quantify and prioritize risks according to their ranking or score.
However tempting, don't go it alone, the company said, explaining that companies that engage in in-house guarding programs frequently get overwhelmed and distracted, plus lack staff with in-depth knowledge of all OSHA CFR 1910 regulations and ANSI B11 Series Standards. Leveraging a third-party team of safeguarding specialists, mechanical and electrical engineers, all of whom have dedicated OSHA, ANSI and NFPA 79 standards expertise, will allow manufacturers to reduce risk, improve compliance, and help keep workers safe at work.
Learn more about machine safeguarding at www.rockfordsystems.com/machine-safeguarding-101.