In California, machine shop workers risk several types of injury while performing their daily duties. Burns, lacerations, amputations, chemical hazards and other injuries can happen to workers who are not always alert, aware or prepared. The following five categories discuss the most common injuries afflicting machine shop workers.
Repetitive stress and handling of materials
Workers who repeatedly perform tasks with the same motions can experience carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries. These painful conditions can limit workers’ ability to perform their job adequately. Mishandling materials, such as improper lifting techniques, can cause or contribute to muscle strains and other injuries from overuse.
Improper use of machine guards
Heavy machines have safety guards to protect against serious injury or amputation. However, accidents can happen even when workers use the right system due to malfunctions.
Some safety guards do not prevent all situations, such as a worker’s finger mistakenly sitting in the track of a gear or saw. Some of the most traumatic machine shop injuries result from missing or poorly maintained machine guards.
Lack of proper care
Many machine shop workers sustain injuries but fear informing their employer, seeking proper treatment or taking time off to heal. Many injuries become worse because workers do not use their employer’s workers’ compensation program. Taking time to rest and heal can prevent minor work-related injuries from becoming more severe or debilitating, preventing individuals from performing their job duties.
Improper use of hand tools or the wrong tool for a job can contribute to musculoskeletal, repetitive-strain injuries. Devices using power can also cause significant injuries. Accidents involving electric saws, drill presses and grinders can cause serious injuries, including amputation, if not used with proper safety protocols.
Poor equipment maintenance or pieces of material that fly from machinery in use can cause additional injuries to workers if they do not wear appropriate eye, face and skin protection.
Chemicals and other toxic substances can become dangerous for workers, although these injuries are often cumulative. Workers in poorly ventilated shops may inhale airborne particulates such as dust or shrapnel but not notice the effects for months or years. Harmful gases like carbon monoxide or ozone may also reach unhealthy concentrations.
Awareness of machine shop injuries can help workers become more aware and seek help from workers’ compensation when they need help.