Conveyor Belt Injuries
Many manufacturing sites and warehouses throughout Texas and Houston make extensive use of conveyor belts. Conveyor belts have been used for more than 100 years to speed up the production of goods and for transportation. However, if not properly designed, maintained, and operated, conveyor belts pose a significant risk of injury in the workplace. These hazards include the following:
- Risk of injury from falling items from the conveyor;
- Hand injuries from workers who try to clear jams or repair the conveyor when it is in operation;
- Head injury from loose clothing or jewelry getting entangled with the drive mechanisms or rollers;
- Crushing injuries;
- Degloving injuries to the hand or fingers; and
- Loss of a limb due to laceration, degloving, or crushing.
Degloving Injuries Caused by Conveyors
The most common injury caused by conveyor belts, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA’s) accident report is to the finger or fingertip. Amputation is common, even when the finger is not fully severed. A finger or other body part can be “degloved,” when the skin surrounding the finger or other appendage is ripped or pulled from the flesh and bone. When a finger gets degloved, often the only option is to amputate it. Skin grafting and other medical procedures can be used, but their success will depend on the quality of the skin graft and the circumstances of the injury, according to research published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Lockout Procedures and the Risk of Injury
Lockout procedures must be followed to ensure that workers who maintain the conveyor are not injured. Sometimes workers let their guards down and fail to disconnect power sources when the conveyor is shutdown for maintenance. Because conveyors can be quite long, there must be considerable communication and coordination between operations and maintenance personnel.
Hazardous Parts of Conveyor Systems
Conveyor pulleys and idlers are just under the conveyor belt itself. If maintenance personnel are cleaning or adjusting pulleys and an operator starts it up, the conveyor can cause serious injury to hands and arms. The head drive mechanism is also one of the most dangerous components of the conveyor belt.
Conveyor Belt Operation
Safety procedures and production targets are often in conflict with one another. Workers may be tempted to clean debris that builds up, clear jams, or make adjustments while the conveyor is in operation. This is always a poor decision. Even a slow speed conveyor can pull a worker’s body up and under the conveyor belt and cause serious injuries to the head or any other part of the body. These injuries can be fatal.
Our Attorneys Have Experience With Workplace Conveyor Belt Injuries and Claims
Conveyor belt injuries often result in serious time away from work, medical costs and ongoing complications, and expenses that drag on into the future, especially when there is either a head injury or severe injury to the hand. You are entitled to workers’ compensation or compensation through a personal injury claim. For help today, call the Houston lawyers at Michael P. Fleming & Associates.