Employers and employees in New Jersey who work around machinery should know about OSHA standards regarding pinch point protection. Pinch points are the areas in machinery where workers or parts of their body are liable to get caught, and pinch point injuries often result in the amputation of fingers, hands, feet and entire limbs. Any machine with gears, pulleys, rollers or belt drives will have pinch points.
The first step is to install guards that isolate the pinch points. If guards are not available from the machine’s manufacturer, employers should have a technically competent and qualified person design them. The manufacturer should nonetheless review the design. The guards should stand up to operational stress and be made in such a way that it’s not easy for workers to bypass or remove them.
Safety devices that require operators to use both hands for machine control are recommended. Employers could also consider devices that stop machines when danger areas have been breached. If one cannot be obtained, employees should be trained on how to stop machinery.
Employees should additionally be trained on the function of every machine part and on the circumstances when guards can be removed. Machines and guards are to be inspected regularly, and the results should be carefully documented. Housekeeping is also essential: Floors should be slip-resistant and free of tripping hazards.
Pinch point injuries can lead to workers’ compensation claims. Victims should know that if they file, they will be waiving their right to sue their employer for the same incident in the future. Workers’ comp benefits may cover medical expenses, a portion of lost wages and temporary, permanent partial or permanent total disability. Victims might want a lawyer by their side. If the claim is denied, the lawyer may assist with the appeal.