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Workplace injuries can be caused by equipment failure

While workers in any career can suffer accident injuries, muscle strains or toxic exposure, those who work in factories or construction risk getting hurt on nearly every shift. Unfortunately, numerous accidents occur due to various pieces of equipment failing while in use.

Employees start a shift feeling confident that their personal protective equipment (PPE), heavy machinery and hand-held equipment will perform as designed. Too often, however, a fault can lead to devastating injuries and loss of life. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict how a machine will fail. From a fatigued part to damaged wiring, heavy equipment can break causing injuries and work stoppage. Injuries can include:

  • Cuts
  • Broken bones
  • Head trauma
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Shock injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Burn injuries
  • Crush injuries

In extreme cases, the equipment failures might lead to explosions, electrocutions or toxic chemical spills. Depending on the type of gear and the defect, workers can be permanently scarred, face lifelong injuries or even death.

In an effort to thoroughly understand these accidents, numerous studies have been completed, including:

  • Data published in the International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics analyzed 773 workplace accidents and found that about 35% could be traced to equipment failure.
  • During one month of a recent crab season, the Coast Guard responded to 28 accidents off the coasts of Oregon and Washington. They stated that most of the accidents were the result of equipment failures on vessels which were not ready for operation.

How can this be prevented?

The causes for equipment failure are myriad. From design defects and poor construction to negligent care to material fatigue, it might be impossible to anticipate and correct every failure before it occurs. However, though regular equipment maintenance and general employee education, workers can remain safe on the job.

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