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OSHA on the presence of pinch points in the workplace

New Jersey residents who work around machinery probably know what pinch points, or nip points, are. These are the points where workers, or parts of their body, are in danger of coming into contact with either the moving parts of a machine or one moving part and one stationary part. These points include gears, belt drives and pulleys.

The construction and textile industries are rife with machines that contain pinch points, including metal-forming machines, conveyors, printing presses and powered doors. The OSHA standards for the construction, agricultural and maritime industries contain guidelines for protecting workers who use machinery with pinch points.

There is no doubt that OSHA is serious about enforcing these guidelines, too. Back in 2018, the safety organization cited an Ohio tool maker for inadequate protection around pinch points. One employee had to have a finger partially amputated because of this failure. The company faced a penalty of more than $213,000 and was placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

Some of OSHA's engineering and work practice controls are as follows. Machines with pinch points must have sturdy, strong guards installed. The right guard must be chosen based on factors like design and the material being manufactured. Regular inspections and employee training are mandatory. Workers should be trained to keep the job site free of debris.

When employees are injured through contact with machinery, they may be able to file for workers' compensation benefits. To be eligible, they do not need to prove that anyone was negligent. However, some employers may try to deny coverage. This is where legal representation may come in handy. Victims may mount an appeal with the help of a lawyer. In this state, victims also have the option of settling.

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