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Workplace injury risk goes up without machine guarding

A safety issue that raises serious concerns in some industries in Colorado and nationally is called machine guarding. It’s important that employees who work on dangerous machines be protected from the gruesome injuries that can be caused. According to OSHA, workers who operate and take care of machinery suffer over 800 deaths and 18,000 amputations per year. Amputations are a particularly costly workplace injury, with nightmarish consequences for the worker.

Workers’ compensation is universally applicable in such situations to pay for the medical expenses and for disability payments during the period of incapacity. Amputations often result in permanent disability, making the failure to properly fit the machines with appropriate guarding a particularly egregious omission. Improperly guarded machines tend to put the assigned worker in a high risk of danger on a daily basis.

One such victim was a 45-year-old man who was killed in a workplace accident in Ohio when his shirt got stuck on a machine and his body was pulled into it. The company makes railway track and components that are used in operating the trains. In 2004, the company received four OSHA citations for machine guarding violations. In 2009, another of the company’s locations received 10 citations, with four of them dealing with machine guarding violations.

In all states, including Colorado, regulations calling for the fitting of machines with safety devices must be enforced in order to bring down workplace injury and death numbers. In some cases, where employers ignore the safety requirements and are repeatedly cited for noncompliance, it may be possible for the injured worker or the deceased worker’s family to sue the employer in tort. A personal injury tort action gives a right to collect additional damages, including for pain and suffering, over and above what may be available in workers’ compensation benefits.

Source: 19 Action News, "Man dies in accident at Cleveland Track Material - 19 Action News", Jen Picciano, Aug. 22, 2014

Source: 19 Action News, "Man dies in accident at Cleveland Track Material - 19 Action News", Jen Picciano, Aug. 22, 2014

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