A teenager from New York is being treated at a Boston hospital after severing his arm in a pasta machine at the Italian restaurant he worked at.
Restaurant manager Mia Violi of Violi’s Restaurant in Massena, NY said that the teenager had been cleaning the pasta machine when his right arm got caught and severed at the elbow. Employees are still trying to discern how the machine was activated while it was being cleaned. The 17 year-old was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital last Thursday and was listed in serious condition. According to WCVB, it has not been determine whether OSHA will be investigating the incident.
Amputations are some of the most debilitating types of injuries that can occur in a workplace, and can involve a variety of types of machinery and occur during various types of activities. Often, according to OSHA, amputations are the result of employees operating unguarded or inadequately safeguarded machinery such as:
• Mechanical power presses • Powered and non-powered conveyor belts • Printing presses • Roll-forming/bending machines • Sheering machines • Food slicers • Meat-cutting saws • Drill presses • Milling machines
• Grinding machines • Slitters
These injuries may also occur during material-handling activities such as when using forklifts, trash compactors, and powered and non-powered tools. In addition to normal operations, preparation activities also expose employees to potential hazards; setting up, threading, preparing, adjusting, cleaning, lubricating and maintaining, and clearing jams.
Before operating any type of machinery, employees should conduct a hazard analysis; a technique that focuses on the relationship between the machine, the employee, the type of work being done, and the risk for potential injury. Additionally, employees should regularly inspect and service machinery to ensure it is running properly and does not pose hazards to operators.
The following types of mechanical hazards include:
• Pinch points; where two points move together with one operating in a circle; commonly found on belt drives, chain drives, gear drives, or feeder rolls.
• Wrap points; occurs when there is an exposed piece of rotating machinery, like a rotating shaft. These points can easily catch clothing or fingers.
• Shear points; where two moving parts move across one another or a single sharp edge moves with enough speed or force to cut; commonly found on conveyers, trimmers, and forklifts.
• Crush points; occurs when two objects are moving toward one another with enough force to crush an object that is caught in between. Gears on conveyer belts or other machinery, as well as pressing machines pose this hazard.
• Pull-in points; points where objects outside of machine are at risk of being pulled into equipment. Feeder rolls and grinders have pull-in points.
• Thrown objects; objects that are flung by machinery or moving parts; wood chippers are a common source of thrown objects.
Safeguarding is also an essential component of preventing such types of injuries. A safeguard is a mechanism installed onto or within the machine that detects and prevents hazards, and in the event of an accident, can halt a machine. There are different types of safeguarding devices including barrier guards; which physically obstruct contact between the point of hazard and the worker, as well as awareness devices; which signal a warning to an operator of an impending or present hazard.
Guards provide physical barriers that prevent access to hazardous parts of a machine. They should be strong and secure, and workers should not be able to remove, tamper with, or bypass these guards. They should not obstruct the operator’s view or prevent employees from working.
Devices help prevent contact with points of operation and may supplement or replace the use of guards. Devices can interrupt the normal cycle of the machine when the operator’s hands are at the point of operation, prevent the operator from reaching into the point of operation, or withdraw the operator’s hands as they approach the point of operation when the machine cycles. They must allow safe lubrication and maintenance and not create hazards or interrupt normal machine operation. Devices should be secure, tamper-resistant, and durable.
It is the responsibility of each employer to ensure the safety of employees. This includes making sure that all employees are properly trained to do their jobs without hazard, that the workplace environment is free of potential hazards that may cause injury, and that all equipment is properly working and maintained.
In addition, because this particular incident mentioned involved a minor, it is important to bring up the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was established by the Secretary of Labor to designate certain non-farm jobs prohibited to minors (those under aged 18) because of their dangerousness. According to OSHA, these workers are generally prohibited from using band saws, circular saws, guillotine sheers, punching and shearing machines, meat-packing, and meat processing machines, paper products machines, meat slicers, and metal-forming machines.
Experiencing any type of severe workplace injury can be a life-altering event and may not only prevent you from returning to work, but cause emotional and physical stress that may inhibit you from returning to your normal life. Employers are responsible for keeping workplaces safe for their employees to prevent injuries. If you or someone you love were a victim of a workplace injury, call or email the law office of Altman & Altman to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Massachusetts Worker Compensation Lawyers for a free initial consultation. For nearly 50 years, we have been helping clients recover workers’ compensation benefits, lost wages, medical expenses, and compensation for emotional pain and suffering. Our attorneys are available around the clock to assist you through each and every part of your case and to answer any and all of your questions.
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