Hands Off: Leave Mechanical Maintenance to the Professionals

Hand injuries are some of the most common injuries in the workplace. We use our hands for most tasks, so they are exposed to hazards more often than the rest of our bodies. Although generally cautious about burns or cuts while handling objects, workers often do not think of the dangers associated with reaching into a machine to fix a jam or remove material. Burns and cuts from objects being handled can cause major injuries, but machines are responsible for most of the amputations and loss of use occurring from occupational injuries.

Hand Safety Tips

Machines are required to be guarded at the point of operation to prevent accidental contact with moving parts. A machines point of operation is the area where the work is being performed. Here are some safety tips to help avoid injury.
•    Never remove or alter a machine guard
•    If a machine you are working with has moving parts that could cause injury, ask for it to be properly guarded.
•    Never reach into the machine or place any part of your body under or between moving parts.

Lockout/Tagout Procedures

If there is a problem with a machine, a procedure called lockout/tagout must be followed before a jam can be removed or other maintenance can be performed on the machine. The energy in the machine when it is jammed is waiting to be released. When the jam is removed or the machine is turned off, the moving parts often return to rest. Gravity, loss of pressure, deactivation of an electrical or mechanical lock, or any number of sources of energy within a machine could lead to a dangerous situation.  Because of this, lockout/tagout requires maintenance to be performed by someone specially trained on the machine. This training includes how to release or block all hazardous energy stored in the machine and ensure it will remain that way until the guards are back in place and the machine is ready to be used again.

Injuries to our hands are common because of how much we use them. Think about how much you use your hands before you put them at risk by reaching into a machine.

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