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Unguarded wood working equipment can cause permanent disability

Colorado workers in the woodworking industry are faced with multiple amputation hazards on a daily basis. Under federal labor laws, employers have to ensure that all machinery and equipment are safeguarded with energy controls to protect workers from moving machine parts. Regular inspections are required to check proper operation of those controls during maintenance operations. An amputation injury can cause permanent disability that could deny a worker the ability to earn an income.

A furniture manufacturer in another state was recently added to the Severe Violator Enforcement Program of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This followed an investigation into a severe injury suffered by a temporary worker who was pulled into an unguarded machine. The skin of the worker's arm was removed from the wrist to the shoulder. OSHA investigators also noted that another worker for this company suffered similar injuries about 14 months ago.

In the previous incident, the employee's skin from wrist to fingertips was pulled off, and the worker's fingertips had to be amputated. In addition to its failure to have working lockout/tagout procedures in place, the company was also cited for failure to repair known electrical hazards and to provide protective gear against chemical hazards. The employment agency that provided the woodworking company with temporary staff was cited for failure to ensure machines were safeguarded.

Whenever a Colorado worker suffers workplace injuries, he or she is entitled to pursue benefit claims through the workers' compensation insurance system. The benefits typically cover medical expenses and lost income. However, if the injuries cause permanent disability, additional compensation may also be awarded to cover vocational training in order to equip the victim with new skills in preparation for a new career.

Source: woodworkingnetwork.com, "MooreCo Furniture Fined by OSHA Over Machine Injuries to Workers", Bill Esler, Dec. 9, 2015

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