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What To Do About Unsafe Work Conditions - Unguarded Industrial Machines

 

A:

PA industrial machine operators may work in unsafe workplace environments.  Many are not sure what they can do.  Others are afraid that if they say something, they may lose their jobs.  Here’s a common question/concern a PA industrial machine operator may have:

I work on an industrial machine at a factory in Pennsylvania, and one of the machine guards was removed from the machine.  I asked my supervisor about it, and he told me that's just how they are going to run the machine from now on so it's easier to get out jams. I am concerned for my safety because I don't want my arm to get caught in the machine because the moving parts are now exposed.  Are there laws about when guarding can be removed?  Can I report my employer if it is unsafe? But, I am afraid I may lose my job if I say something.  What can I do?

Answer: Pennsylvania workers have a right to a safe workplace.  Under the law, employers have the duty to provide a safe workplace for their employees. 

In addition, workers can exercise their rights under the law to raise a safety concern with their employers.  They may talk to their employers about their concerns, or file a report with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which enforces federal regulations to help employers and employees reduce on the job injuries, illnesses and deaths.

It is understandable the workers are afraid to raise their concerns because they are afraid of losing their jobs.  However, Pennsylvania law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights.  Employers cannot fire their employees for raising a safety concern or reporting to OSHA.

There are a few ways workers can raise their concerns.  First, they can call the closest OSHA regional and area offices near them.  Contact information for OSHA regional and area offices in Pennsylvania is provided at the end of this article.

Second, if workers believe that their employers are not following OSHA regulations, they may file a complaint.  OSHA will then come out to inspect the workplace to make sure the employees are not exposed to serious hazards or risks of injury.  Workers can call 1-800-321-OSHA to file a complaint.  They can also file a complaint online via the eCompliant Form.  They may also simply print the complaint and mail or fax it to a local OSHA area office.

Machine Guarding

In terms of regulations regarding machine guarding, OSHA’s standards specifically provide where guarding should be used on industrial machines.  Section 1910.212(a)(3) Point of Operation Guarding provides:

(i) Point of operation is the area on a machine where work is actually performed upon the material being processed.

(ii) The point of operation of machines whose operation exposes an employee to injury, shall be guarded. The guarding device shall be in conformity with any appropriate standards therefor, or, in the absence of applicable specific standards, shall be so designed and constructed as to prevent the operator from having any part of his body in the danger zone during the operating cycle.

Related: PA Injury Lawyer Discusses Industrial Machinery Accidents & Improper Guarding

Therefore, removing a guard on the machine you work on is most likely a violation of OSHA regulations.  I am not sure what type of machine you work on.  In order to properly answer your question, I would need to know more details about the machine.

Related industrial machinery case result: Daniel J. O’Brien, Esq. secures a multi-million dollar settlement for an industrial machine operator who suffered a crush injury

Help After Being Injured on Industrial Machine

Having your industrial machinery accident properly investigated is crucial to determine not only the liability of all parties such as the machine manufacturer, but also the types of claims which may be made.

If you were injured in an industrial machinery accident and would like to have your case evaluated by an attorney, please contact our experienced Philadelphia, PA and New Jersey industrial machinery accident attorney for a free, no obligation consultation at 877.944.8396.

 

Pennsylvania OSHA Area & Regional Offices

 

Allentown Area Office
Saucon Valley Plaza
3477 Corporate Parkway, Suite 120
Center Valley, PA 18034
(267) 429-7542

Erie Area Office
U.S. Department of Labor - OSHA
1128 State Street, Suite 200
Erie, PA 16501
(814) 874-5150

Harrisburg Area Office
U.S. Department of Labor - OSHA
43 Kline Plaza
Harrisburg, PA 17104
(717) 782-3902
 

Philadelphia Area Office
U.S. Department of Labor - OSHA
US Custom House, Room 242
Second & Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 597-4955
Pittsburg Area Office
U.S. Department of Labor-OSHA
William Moorhead Federal Building, Room 905
1000 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 395-4903
Wilkes-Barre Area Office
U.S. Department of Labor - OSHA
The Stegmaier Building, Ste 410
7 North Wilkes-Barre Boulevard
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702-5241
(570) 826-6538

 

Pennsylvania OSHA Area & Regional Offices


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