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Industrial Machinery Accidents- What You Need To Know About Design Defects (Part A: Improper Guarding)

Published: 6/19/12

When factory workers are injured in industrial machinery accidents, they often suffer serious and catastrophic injuries such as:

  • amputation;
  • burns;
  • degloving injuries; or
  • crush injuries.

Most of the time, industrial machinery accidents happen because the machine was defective.  There are three ways a machine can be defective:

  • design defects;
  • manufacturing defects; and
  • failure to warn or failure to provide instructions.
Defective Design in Industrial Machines

Common design defects include:

  • unguarded nip points;
  • single button jog controls/the absence of two button jog controls;
  • jog controls without time delay and warning signals; or
  • jog functions which adjust to unsafe speeds.

This article (Part A) will only discuss machine guarding defects in industrial machines.  The defect in jog button design will be discussed in another article: Industrial Machinery Accidents-What You Need To Know About Design Defects (Part B).

Machine Guarding Per OSHA Regulations

It is essential to have machine guards to protect workers from the moving parts of industrial machines.  Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded.

OSHA regulations require that machines should be guarded to protect workers from hazards and injuries.  Title 1910.212, General Requirements for All Machines, provides:


Types of guarding. One or more methods of machine guarding shall be provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards such as those created by point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks. Examples of guarding methods are-barrier guards, two-hand tripping devices, electronic safety devices, etc.


General requirements for machine guards. Guards shall be affixed to the machine where possible and secured elsewhere if for any reason attachment to the machine is not possible. The guard shall be such that it does not offer an accident hazard in itself.

Failure to Guard Nip Points of Industrial Machines

It is very common for machines to have in-running nip points in order to function.  Often times, nip points will get jammed from whatever product is running through the machines, such as paper or boxes, etc. Operators often need to access the nip points in order to thread the machine and clear the jams.

The appropriate method for guarding the in-running nip points is to incorporate interlocking guards over the in-running nip points, which stops the operation of the machine when the guard is open.  This way, the operator's hand or other body parts are not exposed to the danger of the in-running nip point.

If the machine does not have the interlocking guard when an operator is clearing a jam, it is very likely that the operator's hand or fingers could be rolled into the nip point and sustain a crush injury.

Related Article: Industrial Machinery Accidents: What you need to know (PART B: Defective Jog Controls)

Help After Being Injured on Industrial Machine

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.

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.

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