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Avoiding pinch point accidents

OSHA has addressed the topic of pinch point protection in its standards for general industries as well as agriculture, marine terminals, longshoring and construction. New Jersey residents who work around machinery should be familiar with pinch points and what OSHA has to say about them. Pinch points are areas in machinery where workers can get caught: between two moving parts, a moving and a stationary part, or a part and a material.

Installing guards on machinery, which prevent workers from getting their hands and other extremities caught, is an essential first step. OSHA also recognizes the use of "devices." There are, for example, devices to stop machines in the case of a pinch point accident, devices that withdraw employees' hands from a danger area and safety devices that require operators to have both hands on the machine controls.

When the machine's manufacturer offers guards, the employer should have them installed. If the manufacturer does not offer them, a technically competent person should design and install them based on the type of machine, the work performed on it and other factors. All moving parts are to be secured.

Employee training, regular inspections, clear documentation of those inspections and good housekeeping habits are all encouraged. The last item means that floors and aisles should be non-slip and free of tripping hazards.

Pinch point accidents can lead to serious injuries, some of which may require amputation. Victims may be covered for their medical expenses as well as for short- or long-term disability leave thanks to the workers' compensation program, but they might want a lawyer to assist with their claim once they reach maximum medical improvement. A lawyer may explain the difference between Section 20 and 22 settlements if victims wish to settle. Should a claim be denied, the lawyer may be able to help mount an appeal.

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