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Unguarded machine causes fatal workplace injury to worker

Safeguarding machines to protect workers from moving parts and electric shocks forms an important part of creating a safe workplace environment. Employers nationwide, including in Colorado, must comply with all safety regulations that are prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It is also essential for employees to be trained in the proper methods to use safety equipment to avoid workplace injury.

The choice of a leather manufacturer in another state to disregard regulations to install safety guards led to the death of a 59-year-old worker. This was determined by an OSHA investigation following the fatal workplace accident. The OSHA report indicates that the worker was checking the bearing of a tanning machine as part of his maintenance duties. The large steel roller of the machine apparently activated, and because there was no safeguard installed, the worker was crushed by a roller weighing 1,500 lbs. He reportedly suffered fatal injuries to his neck and head.

OSHA says the regulations relating to safeguarding are quite clear. Workers must be guarded against any process, function or machine part that poses an injury hazard. There are different methods to safeguard workers, though physical barriers may be the most effective. Devices that deactivate the machine when physical presence is detected can provide successful protection, but workers must be trained in the proper operation of the devices.

There are more types of safety devices available, but OSHA recommends those to be used as secondary methods of preventing workplace injury. Although Colorado workers commonly rely on their employers to provide safe workplace environments, victims of workplace accidents -- or the surviving families of workers who lost their lives -- are typically barred from filing civil claims against their employers. Compensation can be pursued by filing benefit claims with the workers' compensation insurance fund. Benefits typically include medical and/or end-of-life expenses, along with coverage for lost wages.

Source: safety.blr.com, "Wisconsin manufacturer cited following fatal incident", Aug. 5, 2015

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