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Industrial Machines – a leading cause of products liability injuries

Unreasonably dangerous machines are one of the leading causes of on the job injuries. Some of the more common machines that have injured workers are: conveyers, press brakes, drill presses, sheers, cutters, printing presses, saws, smelters, pressure vessels, and injection molding machines.

Most frequently it is the worker’s hands and fingers that are injured. These injuries can happen at what is called the point of operation or at any nip point. The point of operation is where the material is inserted into the machine such as where the sheet metal is placed into a press brake or punch press. A nip point is where rollers or other spinning parts can pull a worker’s hand or lose clothing into the machine. Another common hazard is when the machine can be inadvertently activated while a worker has part of his or her body inside the machine performing either set-up or maintenance.

An industrial machine can be defective and unreasonably dangerous if the manufacturer does not supply means for protecting the workers from these hazards. One of the common means for protecting the workers is a point of operation guard. This can be a light barrier, two hand controls, pullback devices, or interlocked guards all of which are designed to prevent the workers’ fingers and hands from the danger zone. Nip points and spinning parts can be guarded by barrier guards. All guards should be interlocked. An interlocked guard it one that automatically shuts the machine down when the guard is opened and provides that the machine will not start up until the guard is closed. Another important safety device which should be included by the manufacturer is an emergency stop switch. These should be provided wherever the worker is located. Finally, a machine should have the ability to be locked out and tagged out whenever a worker is performing set-up or maintenance.

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