Articles Posted in Machinery Accidents

New Bedford officials have reported that a 35-year-man was the victim of a fatal work incident involving a shucking machine at a seafood processing plant on Thursday.

The man was apparently doing a routine cleaning of the machine when he became entangled in the machine’s rotary turbine engine. Rescue crews were dispatched to the scene, where he man was pronounced deceased. The incident remains under investigation.

Industrial machinery injuries are almost always severe and debilitating. A moment’s inattention or single misstep as well as a defective or unguarded piece of equipment can lead to irreparable damage of a limb, result in permanent disability and end a career, or even result in death.

While there are a number of types of industrial machinery that can cause fatal work injuries, the most common types of dangerous machinery include:

-Mechanical power presses -Powered and non-powered conveyer belts -Printing presses -Sheering machines -Drill presses -Meat-cutting saws -Milling machines -Grinding machines -Food slicers -Slitters Continue reading

A delivery truck driver died on Monday after he was crushed by a steel rebar being unloaded at the new 49ners stadium construction site.

872475_construction_workers.jpgThe victim, Edward Lake II, 60, died as he was unloading a bundle of rebar set to be used in the construction of the new $1.2 billion stadium. Both state and local authorities investigated the incident, and the lead construction manager halted work on the project for the remainder of Monday. The death is the second to take place at the site in four months. According to the contractor, employees would resume work on Tuesday and take part in safety meetings and be offered counseling.

It is unclear whether OSHA will cite the contracting company for the incident. The prior fatal incident, according to OSHA investigators, did not warrant a formal citation as the incident was deemed “unexplained.”

More than 4,000 workers suffer fatal work injuries each year in the United States according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). National statistics continue to show the construction industry as the most hazardous work environment for individuals, with construction site injuries occurring nearly three times the rate of any other industry in the United States.

Construction’s “Fatal Four”

Nearly 20% of all occupational injuries occur in the construction industry. Falls accounted for 35% of deaths, followed by struck by an object (10%), electrocutions (9%), and caught in-between injuries (2%). Considering the statistics, these “fatal four” accounted for more than 55% of all construction worker deaths in 2011.
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Massachusetts workers take note; there has been a recent study conducted that sheds new light on the frequency and prevention of amputation injuries in the workplace.

Amputations are one of the most severe and debilitating types of workplace injuries. A moment’s inattention or single misstep, as well as defective or unguarded mechanical equipment can lead to irreparable damage of a limb and result in permanent disability or even the end of a career.114545_mill_drill_machine.jpg
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, there were 5,280 non-fatal amputations in the United States (a rate of 6 per every 100,000 workers); the lowest ever recorded. The greatest number of incidences occurred in 2005, with 8,450 non-fatal amputations. The majority of these types of workplace injuries occur in manufacturing plants and more than 50% occur in construction, agriculture, wholesale and retail trade, and service industries, collectively. Not surprisingly, about 96% of amputations involve loss of a finger.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recognized four types of hazardous exposures that can cause amputation including: machinery and workplace equipment, parts or materials that may collapse on and crush a worker, motor vehicles including forklifts and tractors, and hand tools. While this Minnesota study was national, the findings and information relate to all Massachusetts workplace employees.

Types of Hazardous Machines
Some of the most common machines that pose amputation hazards include:

• 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 Continue reading

Each year thousands of workers are injured in workplace incidents around the Commonwealth. Last year alone, over 50,000 workers were injured and more than 30 were killed on Massachusetts job sites. A study published by The Massachusetts AFL-CIO and the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health found that construction is the most dangerous work industry and far surpasses any other industry in the amount of workplace injuries and fatalities.

Forklift accidents are one type of incident that most often occurs on construction sites, manufacturing and storage warehouses, and accounts for a great number of workplace injuries.
Accidents with forklifts can be caused by numerous factors such as unsafe workplace conditions, inexperience, or unsafe practices while operating the machinery. Accidents caused by those types of factors are almost 100% preventable if the proper safety precautions are taken.1125238_forklift_1.jpg

Some of the most common physical conditions that contribute to forklift accidents include slippery or uneven surfaces, floor and load limits, and obstructions. Slippery and uneven surfaces pose hazards such as skidding and tip over, especially when a forklift is traveling over oil, grease, water, mud, gravel, and other uneven ground conditions. It is most advised to avoid these types of surfaces whenever possible and spread material, such as sand or other absorbent material, over slick areas you cannot avoid to prevent skidding. Workers should always report unsafe conditions, and warning signs should be implemented to warn others of danger, until the area can be properly cleaned.
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Construction workers have dangerous jobs. When these employees leave to go to work in the morning, they know that there is a significant chance that they may get hurt. A construction worker, who was filling in a trench for sewer pipes in the Boston area, was reminded of this dreadful fact on September 27th. Working on a site formerly known as a Volkswagen dealership, the 49-year old man became wedged in between a small Bobcat machine and a pipe when the Bobcat machine tipped over. It took thirty members of the technical rescue team from the Boston Fire Department to get him out of the property now owned by Harvard University. After forty minutes of being pinned in the trench, the worker was finally removed and may have a few broken bones according to the deputy of the fire department. He was taken to Beth Israel Hospital to be treated for his injuries.

Workers’ Compensation

Construction accidents, like the one mentioned above, occur frequently in the United States. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicates that there are a total of 4,206 worker fatalities in the private industry in the year 2010. Out of these fatalities, 774 or 18.7% are attributed to construction sites. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed to “prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work” and thereby created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to set and enforce protective workplace safety and health hazards. According to OSHA, falls, electrocutions, struck by an object, and caught-in/between are the top four reasons why construction workers are injured and die every year.

Workers who are involved in construction accidents are burdened with extensive costs associated with their injuries. Workers’ compensation can pay for such costs in exchange for you promising not to sue your employer. In Massachusetts, workers’ compensation will usually cover your medical costs, disability payments, 60% of your average income (or greater if you become disabled due to your accident), and other compensation (including coverage for permanent disfigurement or scars and loss of function). If you are a construction worker and your injury prevents you from returning to work, you may be able to receive paid-for vocational training to get another job. Immediate family members can recover death benefits if the worker was killed on the job.
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In a recent decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Court found that workers’ compensation disability benefits could, in some cases, be calculated based on the worker’s current weekly earnings at his most recent job-even if that job is not in Massachusetts.

The controlling precedent for the lower court’s decision in this case was Letteney’s Case, where the court held that wages earned outside of Massachusetts could NOT be used to determine current workers’ compensation benefits. In the case at bar, the court reined in that holding-limiting it to cases involving “out-of-State wages earned after suffering latent injuries (such as from exposure to asbestos) that do not result in eligibility for incapacity benefits for at least 5 years.”

Scott Wadsworth, the plaintiff in the case, was certainly pleased. Wadsworth was injured in a metal rolling machine accident (his right hand was crushed) in 1980 while on the job at a Massachusetts corporation. He received benefits for incapacity from 1980-1988. He then started a job in Connecticut. He underwent a procedure to help the pain in his previously injured hand, which only caused further pain, then applied for permanent disability in 2003, arguing that his benefits should be calculated based on his wage rate in 2003 at his Connecticut job. Wadsworth’s rationale was that “he was permanently disabled from a subsequent injury that was a recurrence of his 1980 injury after having returned to work for a period of at least two months.”

The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) has recently conducted an assessment of workplace safety at Angelica Textile Services, operating under the name of Royal Institutional Services, in Somerville, Massachusetts. The investigation was prompted by multiple worker complaints in regards to illnesses, injuries, and long-term health problems due to a dangerous and unhealthy working environment. MassCOSH´s findings were recently published in a >report that was compiled from this recent workplace safety assessment. As reported in OSHA Cites Somerville Commercial Laundry Service After Employee Injury, the company was also cited by the

In a July 5th work-related accident, a 58-year-old street sweeper from Penacook, New Hampshire, was killed in his street sweeping vehicle at an intersection in Norwood, Massachusetts. According to David Traub, spokesman from the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office, the street cleaner, Patrick J. MacDonald, was killed after getting trapped in the street sweeping machinery. David Procopio, State Police spokesman, said that MacDonald appeared to have been doing repairs on the machine when he became entangled into the container that holds debri.

Norwood Fire Department spokesman George Morrice confirmed that paramedics who arrived at the scene pronounced MacDonald dead. The State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction team were called to the scene to investigate. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is also investigating the accident to determine whether or not workplace safety standards were violated. OSHA inspections must be completed within 180 days, involve an onsite inspection, interviews, record reviews, and any required testing.

OSHA Spokesman Ted Fitzgerald said that if the administration did find that the accident occurred due to safety violations, then the company would be cited and likely fined. If a violation is cited as serious, the fine could be up to $7,000. OSHA issues a serious violation when death or serious physical harm could likely result from a hazard that the employer should have known about and failed to fix. If the violation is cited as a willful violation, the fine to the company could be up to $70,000. OSHA issues a willful violation, the most serious of violations, when the employer knows that a hazardous situation exists and intentionally makes no attempt to fix it. MacDonald was working for an Everett-based sweeping company called Bay State Sweeping.

Although this fatal accident is still under investigation, many questions arise from the circumstances of the accident as it could have occurred due to operational error or due to a hazard that the employer could have prevented, such as a lack of training. Another possibility is that the sweeping machine malfunctioned, entitling the deceased family to a Massachusetts Defective Products Liability Lawsuit. There are many unknowns about this case. From afar, there may be a defective product claim, but that would likely require the hiring of an expert or numerous experts. The issue of proper training is another avenue that an attorney will look at to see if that may have contributed to the accident. Additionally, knowing if that machine had similar problems in the past or any other operational issues in the past would be important, just as knowing when the last time that machine was inspected. These are just a few issues an attorney would look at. There may be many others that are not apparent right now but may be important as the investigation unfolds.

If you or your loved one has been injured in the workplace, it is best advised that you contact an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer soon after the accident.


Worker killed in street sweeping accident in Norwood, The Boston Globe, July 5, 2011
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Royal Institutional Services Inc., a commercial laundry service in Somerville, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration after a mechanic had his hand compressed by an ironing machine on January 26. The company faces four alleged violations of workplace safety standards and a proposed fine of $49,935.

After learning of the incident in which the employer was lubricating a chain on the iron that was not turned off, OSHA opened its inspection into the company´s workplace safety. They found that not only had the machine been powered at the time of the accident, but that it´s power source was not locked out before the mechanic began his maintenance. OSHA standards require “Lockout/Tagout (LOTO)” procedures which protect employees from the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment when a machine is being serviced or maintenanced by completely powering off the energy to the machine.

OSHA also found that employees who were authorized to work on the machine were not properly trained or monitored to make sure that they knew how to operate the machines and manage their energy.

OSHA’s area director for Middlesex and Essex counties in Massachusetts, Jeffrey A. Erskine said, “It’s not enough for an employer to have a hazardous energy control program in place. It must be effective, and authorized employees must be effectively trained so they will understand and safely utilize proper procedures…Failure to do so can result in serious injury, such as occurred here.”

Because OSHA had previously cited the company for a lack of energy control procedures in March of 2006, Royal Institutional Services was given a repeat violation with a fine of $35,000 for this similar violation. They were also given two serious violations with $14,000 in fines for the lack of proper training and one violation for the lack of written lockout procedures for a machine with a fine of $935.

OSHA issues a repeat violation when an employer has previously been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. OSHA issues a serious violation when death or serious physical harm could likely result from a hazard about which the employer should have known about or knew about and failed to fix.

The inspection was conducted by OSHA´s Andover Area Office and the company has 15 business days to respond to OSHA or contest the charges to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

If you or your loved one has been injured in the workplace, it is advised that you contact an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer.


US Labor Department’s OSHA cites Somerville, Mass., commercial laundry for safety hazards following worker injury, OSHA Regional News Release, June 28, 2011
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Bostik Inc. Provides Cause for Plant Explosion and Worker Injuries in Middleton, Officials Continue Investigation

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Following the death of a 20-year-old worker in Ohio last September, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has drawn national attention to grain storage facility deaths. After inspecting Gavilon Grain LLC, OSHA charged this company with over forty citations and $465,500 in fines for safety violations at their three Ohio facilities in Morral, West Jefferson and Harpster .

OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor, Dr. David Michaels, explained that this death, in which the employee got caught in a discharge auger when cleaning out a grain bin, should have been avoided: “This tragic death could have been prevented had the grain bin owner and operators followed occupational safety standards and learned from the tragedies that have occurred at other grain bins…Grain elevator owners and operators must implement well-known safety practices to prevent workers from being hurt or killed in a grain bin.” Purdue University researchers report that approximately 25 workers in the U.S. were killed in grain equipment last year and that 2010 saw the highest number of grain deaths since they started collecting this data in 1978.

Because the number of deaths related to grain processing is on the rise, OSHA sent a notification letter in February 2011 to grain storage facility operators warning them of grain equipment safety standards. OSHA explains that entrapment deaths occur due to employer negligence, poor safety practices, and non-compliance with OSHA standards. Michaels said that “OSHA will not tolerate noncompliance with the Grain Handling Facilities standard…We will continue to use our enforcement authority to the fullest extent possible.”

Although grain equipment deaths are not as frequent in Massachusetts as in other farming states, grain equipment can nonetheless pose a threat to workplace safety and employers should always take action for a safer workplace. Since 2009, OSHA has cited and fined numerous other grain operators nationwide in order to prevent further workplace injuries or deaths due to grain equipment.

If you have been injured in the workplace, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced Massachusetts Work Injury Lawyers for advice on a case and a free consultation.


US Labor Department’s OSHA cites Gavilon Grain for willful, other safety violations following death of 20-year-old worker at Morral facility, OSHA National News Release, March 16, 2011 Continue reading

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