In other Iowa personal injury legal news a worker at the J.E. Adams parts manufacturing plant in Cedar Rapids lost a part of his hand when it got stuck inside the machine. I've handled similar cases involving pinch-points and dual operation palm button manufacturing machinery. Most modern machinery won't allow the operator to insert his hand into the location of a pinch point and to also start the machine's operation. In other words both of the operator's hands are needed to start the machine's manufacturing processes. For more information about this story read the Register's article titled, Worker loses part of hand in machinery, May 6, 2010.
Michigan OHSA has a good definition of what is a pinch point. We'll borrow what they published.
What are "pinch points?"
A pinch point is any point at which it is possible for a person or part of a person's body to be caught between moving parts of a machine, or between the moving and stationary parts of a machine, or between material and any part of the machine. A pinch point does not have to cause injury to a limb or body part, although it might cause injury - it only has to trap or pinch the person to prevent them from escaping or removing the trapped part from the pinch point.
How are "pinch points" different from points of operation?
Pinch points are distinguished from points of operation mainly by definition, but points of operation can be, and often are pinch points. Pinch points generally occur exclusive of a point of operation (where some form of work is taking place.)
What machines have "pinch points?"
Pinch points can be quite pervasive in a business and include, but are not limited to such machines as metal-forming machines, power presses, conveyors, robotic machines, powered rollers, assembling machines, plastic molding machinery, printing presses, powered benders, press brakes, power transmission equipment, powered doors, covers, and hatches, including such generally un-recognized hazards like overhead, powered garage-type of sliding doors! (They create a pinch point between the moving door and the floor or door frame that can strike or trap unwary people standing beneath or walking through them!)
What can employers do to protect employees?
The major thing employers can do, and are required to do, is make a careful evaluation of the machines and operations within their workplaces to identify pinch points. After identifying them, the next step is to eliminate or guard the pinch points to prevent employee contact with the pinch points. After eliminating or guarding the pinch points, an employer must train all of the employees about the reasons for the guarding and the hazards created by the pinch points and what injury a pinch point might cause.
Guards are specifically intended to create a physical barrier to prevent anyone from reaching into, through, over, under, or around the guard to make contact with, or at, the pinch point.
Training is required to teach the employees what the guards are designed to do and the reason for the protective barrier, and to instruct the employees not to tamper, modify, circumvent, or remove the guards EXCEPT under very specific cases when repair work might be necessary by trained and qualified employees.
Are employees required to do anything about "pinch points?"
Yes. Employees have a specific duty not to remove, displace, damage, destroy, carry off, tamper, modify, or interfere with any guarding or employees utilizing guarding placed upon machinery by their employer of manufacturer unless they have been especially trained, instructed, and designated by their employer and understand, know, and utilize alternative forms of protection while repairing, trouble-shooting, servicing, or lubricating any machinery.
If any employee discovers an un-guarded pinch point, they need to report the hazard to their supervisor or employer immediately.
Improperly guarded punch presses can inflict more serious injuries. However, most punch presses are well guarded by a two-hand trip and photoelectric beams.
These must be used with part-revolution presses; they cannot be used with full-revolution presses. Full revolution presses must have a guard--barrier, two-hand control or similar positive device. Proper guarding prevents entry over, under, around and through.
It is dangerous to work around machinery that has oscillating or reciprocating parts or elements. Of course, most of these areas are guarded, but in cases when guards are removed to do work or make adjustments, be sure the parts cannot move or be moved. Tag out or lock out the equipment and be sure the machinery cannot cycle if it is off balance or activated by accident.
I have to wonder how this injury could have happened. Without seeing the machinery it's not possible to know, only to speculate, which I hate to do.
A quick search using Google shows that JE Adams Industries Ltd is located at 1025 63rd Avenue Southwest, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404-4749. The company website is at www.jeadams.com. As self described J.E. Adams Industries is a leading manufacturer of parts and accessories serving the self serve car washing, pressure washing, and mist cooling industries for over 35+ years. I was unable to locate any news release about this accident on the site.