Pennsylvania is one of the nation’s leaders in the manufacturing industry, and machine shops play an important role. However, statistics show that these are dangerous places to work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, just over 3 injury incidents happened per every 100 full-time machine shop workers.
American Machinist provides an overview of the most common injuries.
Lifting, repetitive motion and ergonomic issues cause the greatest number of machine shop injuries. While a worker may notice a sprain or strain immediately, the constant motion, poor posture, awkward positions and vibration of tools can cause long-term damage a little at a time. Regular rest breaks, ergonomic conditions and lift supports may prevent some of the physical stress that leads to these injuries.
Exposure to harmful chemicals or substances can also cause immediate or gradual development of health issues. Improperly ventilated workspaces may cause exposure problems for welders as well as those performing tasks such as grinding, finishing and other common machining tasks. Workers may also inhale carbon monoxide, ozone, airborne dust, shrapnel and other dangerous particulates. In addition to ventilation, workers may need personal protective equipment such as masks and other respiratory protection.
Some of the most gruesome injuries happen because machines do not have the appropriate guards or barriers in place, or damage keeps them from being effective. Amputations and crush injuries to fingers and limbs are common. Why do they happen so often? Machine guarding violations have been on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Top Ten most frequently cited list from 2013 to 2019. In addition to safety guards, machine sensors can stop these accidents before an injury occurs.
No matter the hazard, proper training is a key to preventing machine shop injuries.