Protecting workers against pinch points
Employers in Florida, especially those in agriculture, construction, longshoring and general industry, should know what pinch points are and how to protect workers against them. Pinch points, or nip points, are areas between two moving machine parts, between a stationary part and moving part or between a machine part and some material that can catch a worker or part of the worker’s body.
Some examples of these points are gears, pulleys and belt drives. They can be found on metal-forming machines, plastic-molding machines, conveyors, printing presses, powered rollers and even sliding garage-type doors. Workers may have an extremity crushed or cut off in these pinch points. In 2018, a worker at an Ohio tool manufacturer lost part of a finger on a conveyor belt, which led to an OSHA citation and a $213,411 penalty.
OSHA has set up guidelines for protecting workers from pinch points, which can be easily summarized. First, all machines with a pinch point need a guard installed by a competent person. This should be durable and suitable for the machine’s design. It must never be removed except for maintenance.
Then, workers should receive the appropriate training so that they can operate the machine with all the safeguards. They must also know how to stop the machinery in case of emergencies.
Caught-in and caught-between accidents are all too common on some job sites, and they form the basis for many a workers’ compensation case. As long as the employer has workers’ comp insurance, an injured employee may file for benefits, but receiving them is not guaranteed. This is why victims may want to have a lawyer evaluate their case and handle the filing process. A lawyer may even prove helpful if victims need to mount an appeal or want to opt for a settlement.