Each year, roughly 18,000 machine-related injuries occur in workplaces in California and across the country. Injuries, such as lacerations and amputations, often occur whenever machines are improperly maintained or incorrectly used. For this reason, manufacturers attach safety guards or protective barriers to dangerous machinery to keep employees from getting injured on moving and sharp parts.

How dangerous machinery can be maintained

Many workplace injuries would probably be greatly reduced if simple routine maintenance checks on dangerous workplace machinery were performed prior to use. Some of these safety measures include:

• Tagging any machines or guards that are broken or not working correctly
• Cleaning and lubricating all parts
• Correctly adjusting and setting up the machine
• Following all lockout or tagout procedures when necessary
• Thoroughly inspecting the machine

How protective guards work

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, hazardous machinery must have a protective guard. Here are some types of protective guards:

• self-adjusting
• permanently attached to the machine
• adjustable
• interlocking

Self-adjusting guards work by automatically adjusting to the size of the material fed into the machine. Some equipment that use these guards are woodworking tools and table saws. Permanent or fixed guards do not require adjustments; however, they have to be completely disassembled and removed for maintenance or adjustment. Adjustable guards are similar to permanent guards, but since they have to be adjusted manually and locked in place, employees who use them are required to undergo training to prevent misuse and severe injuries. Interlocking guards will shut off automatically when opened or removed. Employees should use caution around these guards because they could accidentally open while in use and must be carefully maintained and adjusted.

Severely injured employees can find legal help

While many employers abide by OSHA’s rules regarding machinery protocol and safety, others may not. They might be using old, worn-out machinery or fail to properly train their employees on how to safely operate, repair and maintain hazardous machinery or guards. For this reason, employees who are seriously injured because of a malfunctioning machine might wish to contact an attorney who handles workers’ compensation claims about filing for benefits.