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OSHA guidelines on pinch point protection

Anyone in California who works around machinery likely knows what pinch points or nip points are: the spaces in machinery where a worker is liable to get caught. Pinch points are found in power presses, conveyors, powered doors and hatches, plastic-molding machines and metal-forming machines. They are in any machine that has gears, rollers, belt drives or pulleys. OSHA has engineering and work practice controls to protect workers against them.

First, OSHA recognizes the use of guards as well as what it calls "devices." These devices are meant to stop machinery once a worker is caught in it and withdraw workers' hands from the machinery when it is operating. OSHA has several requirements in place for the prevention of pinch point accidents.

First of all, employers must have guards installed on machinery, preferably ones from the machine's manufacturer. If none are available, then technically competent professionals should design and install them based on the machine's design and the material manufactured. Workers should not be able to tamper with the guards, and the guards should stand up to operational stress.

Employees must be trained on the proper use of machinery and of any devices that stop the machinery in emergencies. Employees should know never to leave a machine that has not been turned off. Employers should have regular machine inspections and carefully record the findings.

When employees suffer work-related injuries, they have two options: filing an injury claim if there is proof of gross negligence on the employer's part or filing a workers' compensation claim. With the latter, victims may receive regular payments that cover medical expenses, a portion of their lost wages and even short- or long-term disability leave. The filing process might go a lot smoother with an attorney. Should the claim be denied, an attorney may assist with the appeal.

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