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Setting the record straight about machine safety

In 2015, OSHA fined companies in Minnesota and elsewhere $6.8 million for violations of Machine Guard Standard 1910.212. However, employers actually spend more when an employee is injured because other costs such as damaged equipment or defending against lawsuits must also be factored in. Each year, 800 people who maintain or operate machinery die while another 18,000 suffer crushing injuries, lacerations or the possibility of having body parts amputated.

Companies may believe that new machines are safe because they are built to meet modern safety standards. However, this is not always the case. Employers are encouraged to specify whether the machines are supposed to comply with ANSI or European standards. Machines built in the European Union are generally the safest on the market. All machines must meet OSHA standards regardless of when they were made. While older machines were grandfathered at one point, those grandfather clauses expired years ago.

Companies that are looking to meet rigorous safety criteria should aim to be in compliance with ANSI B11 Safety Standards. Employers should understand that OHSA regulations state that they are responsible for creating a safe and healthy workplace for everyone. OSHA 1910.212 General Requirements for Machines provides safety standards for both machine operators and those who are in the area of a machine.

Anytime a person is hurt at work, an employer may be liable for damages. In most cases, the employer's workers' compensation insurance policy will pay any medical bills an injured worker may incur. That policy may also pay to help someone who is recovering from an injury recoup a portion of his or her lost wages. Depending on the severity of an injury, a worker may be granted benefits on a permanent basis if he or she cannot return to work.

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Law Office of David M. Bialke
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