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Pinch points: a major workplace hazard

Employers in Oklahoma, especially those in the construction and manufacturing industry, will want to know what pinch points are. Various OSHA state offices have been warning about these because they're a frequent source of workplace injuries. Pinch points are areas in machinery where workers, or parts of their body, are liable to get stuck. They could be areas between two moving parts, between a stationary part and a moving part, or between a material and part of a machine.

Machines that pose numerous pinch points include metal-forming machines, powered rollers, conveyors, power transmission equipment, and assembling machines. Those in the printing industry may be endangered by printing presses while those in the plastic manufacturing industry could be caught in injection molding machinery. Robotic machines as well as common machines like powered doors, covers and hatches also present a high risk.

Employers should inspect all machinery for pinch points, eliminate them when possible and set up guardrails and other safety provisions for those that cannot be eliminated. They should also make sure employees understand the purpose of these guards and train them never to alter the guards. Employers could specially train certain employees to alter them in the event that repairs are required. All employees should also be instructed to report any unguarded pinch points.

When employees are caught in pinch points and suffer workplace injuries, they may be able to file for workers compensation benefits and be reimbursed for medical expenses, lost wages and whatever else is applicable. All they have to do is report the accident to their employer and make it known that they'll be filing. The program waives the worker's right to sue the employer as could be the case if the employer's negligence caused the accident. In either case, the employee may wish to have a lawyer assess the claim, gather necessary paperwork and negotiate for a fair amount.

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