Even the safest machine can turn unsafe if misused

by on December 8, 2010 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

Safety Director Marcus Drake shone a flashlight inside the big paper rewinding machine. “So this is where Selinda got hurt?” he asked supervisor Carl Browne.

“Yep,” Carl said. “That pinch point there. Her knife got caught and pulled her arm into the roller. It was broken in three places.”

“And we’re going to get a fulldress OSHA inspection,’ Marcus said. “They’re coming tomorrow.”

Answers needed
“So, I need a few answers from you,” Marcus said. “First off, why was Selinda working inside the guarded area? I didn’t think it was even possible with that laser-beam sensor the new machine has. Doesn’t it cut off the power when something interrupts the beam?”

“Yes, if the machine is running at normal speed,” Carl replied. “But you can set it to run at feed speed, which is what we use to thread on a new roll of paper.”

“So Selinda was putting on a new roll?” Marcus asked.

“No,” Carl said. “She was actually putting plastic wrap on a completed roll before taking it off the machine. That’s why she had a knife, to cut the plastic.”

“Huh?” Marcus exclaimed.

“Does this equipment do double duty as a wrapping machine?”

“That’s not what we bought it for, but it does get used for wrapping,” Carl said. “The problem is, this new machine is set up differently from the old one.”

“With the old one, we could put the plastic wrappers on the rolls pretty easily,” Carl went on.

“With this one, it’s a little more complicated, and you have to power it down to feed speed.”

“You have to power it down so you can defeat the safety features, you mean,” Marcus said. “When
Cal-OSHA hears about this, they’re going to be all over me.”

Was the company cited?

The decision
Yes, the company got a serious citation for a machine-guarding violation. Cal-OSHA said Selinda shouldn’t have been working around unguarded pinch points. The company then stopped using the rewinding machine to plastic-wrap the paper rolls.

Many supervisors are subject to production pressures that can lead to unsafe shortcuts and accidents. Don’t take such shortcuts. Instead, approach your Safety Director, who can work with Operations to apply engineering controls and eliminate the need for the shortcut.

Cite: Perez v. VAS SpA, No. B219080, Cal. App., 8/24/10.

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