Failure to Maintain Proper Guards and Other Protective Gear
Guards are installed on machinery to protect workers and others from injury. If a machine has a function, process, or part which can cause injury, it needs a safe guard or other protective gear, such as fall protection equipment on scaffolding. Whenever a machine is in operation, its guards and other protective gear must be in place. Guards can never be bypassed or removed during use of machinery. An employer’s failure to maintain proper guards and other protective gear can lead to catastrophic results. Employees injured due to a lack of properly functioning safety devices can experience crushed fingers or hands, burns, blindness, and amputations.
Employees injured on the jobsite can seek compensation through Maine’s workers’ compensation system. Nearly all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in Maine. Workers’ compensation provides benefits for employees injured in the course of employment. Workers’ compensation benefits can include payment for lost time, medical bills, retraining, and more.OSHA Standards for Machine Guarding
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets forth guidelines for most private sector employers and their workers. OSHA has the power to issue citations to workplaces found to be in violation of their regulations. Approximately 4% of all OSHA violations involve the failure to provide and use proper safety guarding procedures.
In Maine, employers routinely engage in the following egregious behaviors:
- Failure to provide machine guarding—guarding must be provided on machines to protect the operator and other employees from hazards created, such as rotating parts, flying debris, sparks, and the like. Guarding can include barrier guards, two-hand tripping devices, and electronic safety devices.
- Failure to guard the point of operation of machine—the point of operation of machines whose operation exposes a worker to injury must be guarded. Guarding should prevent the operator from having his body in the danger zone during use of the machinery.
- Failure to anchor fixed machinery—machines designed for a fixed location must be anchored to prevent movement.
- Failure to guard exposed blades—when blades are less than seven feet above the floor or working level, they shall be guarded with openings of no more than ½ inch.
- Failure to affix guards to machine—guards must be affixed to the machine when possible and elsewhere if attachment is not possible.
Thousands of employees will be injured on the job each year due to a lack of properly installed and maintained safety gear. These unfortunate and preventable accidents can result in serious injury. Employees injured on the job can seek workers’ compensation benefits to cover their medical bills and lost wages. Employees must report the injury to their supervisor within 30 days, and the injury must either require medical attention or missed days of work. In some cases, it may be appropriate to notify OSHA that an employer has failed to maintain proper guards on equipment or provide safety gear. OSHA may inspect the workplace and issue citations for egregious violations. However, OSHA does not provide a private right of action for the injured employee against the employer.
An experienced Maine workers’ compensation attorney can examine the facts of your accident and determine the appropriate avenues for relief.Maine Employee Rights Group: Justice for Injured Workers
At Maine Employee Rights Group, we believe that all injured employees have the right to a full and fair recovery. If you or a loved one is injured on the job due to an employer’s failure to maintain proper guards or other protective gear, our skilled workers’ compensation attorneys can help. For more information about recovering damages for injuries resulting from an employer’s failure to maintain proper guards or provide safety gear, call Maine Employee Rights Group today at 207.874.0905. We offer an initial consultation and have offices throughout the State of Maine.