Machines help make many jobs easier by cutting, bending, gluing, and fabricating different products and materials so people don’t have to. However, along with the utilization of machines comes the risk for injury. The sad truth is that nearly four million employees are injured while on the job each year with some of those injuries stemming directly from machine accidents. Injuries can range in severity from simple pinches and cuts all the way to the loss of limbs or even death. In order to combat machine hazards, the incorporation of safeguards along with proper training and diligence towards safety serve as the best defense.
Machines that Pose Hazards
There are different types of machines used in different operations; however, it is important to note that most machines do pose some sort of safety hazard whether it is big or small. For example, some common machines in labs that pose safety hazards include autoclaves, Bunsen burners, and centrifuges. While some industrial machine shops harbor differing hazards such as table saws, lathes, welding machines, and drill presses. It is important to understand that whenever a machine is utilized, there may be safety risks associated with its usage, even the machines that mix up ice cream treats pose some sort of safety risks to the employees using them.
What parts of the Machine are the Most Hazardous?
Most machines feature open and exposed moving parts which enable operators to quickly and easily fix the machine during a breakdown, however, it is those same open and exposed mechanisms that pose the highest threat towards safety. In order to understand the dangerous components of a machine lets break them down into three different categories:
· The Point of Operation: The point of operation is where the actual work is being conducted, whether the machine is drilling, cutting, sanding, bending, etc. this is where the main job is taking place.
· Power Apparatus: The power apparatus is where the power to run the machine is derived. The machine may feature a variety of different moving parts to power the machine; some common components include belts, pulleys, rods, spindles, cranks, flywheels, etc.
· Additional Moving Parts: This category includes any other part that may feature movement while the machine is in use. Items in this category by rotate or reciprocate among other things.
Protection from Machine Hazards
Safeguards are one of the most effective ways to cut down the risk of machine-related injuries. Safeguards are placed in areas where power is conducted, parts are in movement, and also at the point of operation. OHSA outlines six different requirements needed for effective machine safeguarding which include: prevent contact, secure, protect from falling objects, create no new hazards, create no interference, and allow safe lubrication. In addition to Safeguards, operator based care is also important to prevent machines from causing injuries. Operator based care also helps keep the machine running efficiently to prevent downtime and loss of productivity.
When it comes to machine hazards, it is always better to be safe than sorry. It is important to take the time needed to become familiar with the machines you work around so you are aware of the hazards and what safeguards are in place to help prevent injuries. With a little cooperation from everyone, we can help eliminate unnecessary and careless machine-related injuries.