Photo: The MK Shop

A number of incidents have occurred this year alone that involve workers appendages being caught in the rotating arms of machinery. The most common way this occurs is when workers clothing becomes entangled in the machine and causes the worker s’ arm to become caught.

Identifying the hazards is the first step toward protecting workers from them. Any machinery that rotates presents a hazard regardless of speed of the rotations. Machines that cut, punch, shear and bend are potentially hazardous.

Workers whose job involves working with this or any other dangerous machinery need to be aware of how to operate the machinery without injuring themselves. When working with plant and machinery some workers may not be able to avoid working with rotating components so workers need to be trained and supervised when operating this machinery.

Another important point to remember is that workers should only make use of machinery to do what it has been manufactured to do. Follow the manual when operating the machinery.  Workers who are not trained should not be allowed to operate machinery and unauthorised workers must not be allowed into the vicinity of the dangerous machinery. This is why guarding plays such an important role and guards (and other safety devices) should be tamper proof.

Because entanglement is the main cause of injury from rotating machinery and clothing the main cause of entanglement, workers who operate this machinery should never wear loose, dangling objects of clothing. Long hair should also be kept away from the machine. Also workers should be trained on the correct use of PPE because PPE can play a role in entanglement.

For example wearing gloves when operating rotating machinery is not a good idea but if it cannot be avoided the gloves should fit snuggly and should not present an entanglement hazard.

Machine guards are vitally important in protecting workers from injury. A rotating motion can be dangerous. Even smooth, slowly rotating shafts can grip clothing, and through mere skin contact, force an arm or hand into a dangerous position and result in loss of the appendage.

There are several safety measures that can be introduced to minimise the hazard.

Prevent contact by installing and maintaining machine guards. This safeguard should effectively prevent hands, arms or any other part of a worker’s body from making contact with dangerous moving parts. Often businesses fail to replace broken guards or fail to install them at all and workers’ end up pay the price.

Workers should not be able to easily remove or tamper with the safeguard even if they are examining a fault in the machine.  Guards and safety devices should be made of durable materials that will withstand normal use and should be reviewed regularly. If they need to be replaced, they should be done so timeously.

Also the machinery must be protected from falling objects entering the moving parts because this can cause injury for the operator and some operators may attempt to remove the object and be injured in the process.

Even when lubricating and servicing the machinery, the guarding should not be removed or tampered with by the worker. Workers should remember, never endanger yourself in the name of productivity.


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