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How Common are Food Slicer and Grinding Injuries?

| Jan 10, 2016 | Workers’ Compensation

A typical hospital emergency room might not see food preparation injuries on a daily basis. When they do occur, these injuries can be severe and disabling. Meat grinding and food slicer mishaps are common enough that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration mounted an ongoing campaign to draw awareness to the problem. The OSHA Fact Sheet: “Preventing Cuts and Amputations from Food Grinders” explains the issues simply.

In 2013, 4000 work-related grinder and slicer incidents occurred nationally. Some of these injuries were severe enough to cause lost time from work. Others caused serious problems, including amputations and permanent disabilities. Given the seriousness and potential complications of food slicer or grinding injuries, it’s important for an injured employee to consult with a workers compensation lawyer Arlington Heights for guidance in properly presenting an injury claim.

Dangerous for young employees

Some job-related functions are so inherently dangerous, they are included on a Fair Labor Standards Act list of “particularly hazardous” nonfarm jobs for people under 18. Meatpacking and meat-processing machines are on this list, along with band saws, punching, and shearing machines, and other devices with a history of causing worker injuries. Due to the increased potential for on-the-job injuries, Child Labor Laws prohibit workers under 18 from using them.

Amputations and severe injuries occur during operation and maintenance and also when an employee is performing machine setup, inspections, production, jam-clearing, and other activities. Food slicer and grinding machines cause injuries as they require employees to perform certain activities using one or a series of what OSHA calls “dangerous motions”

  • Rotating – may grip clothes or body parts
  • Reciprocating – may hit or trap worker
  • Transversing – may cut or pinch
  • Cutting – may cut or amputate
  • Punching – may crush or amputate
  • Shearing – may cut or amputate

Preventing Injuries

Because food slicers and grinders are a known source of employee-related injuries, employers and workers have options for making machine use a safer experience. State and national labor laws hold employers responsible for conducting activities that encourage and maintain a safe work environment.

  • Proper training
  • Adequate supervision
  • Enforcement of safety standards
  • Hazard recognition
  • Machine safeguards, barriers, and emergency lockouts
  • Safety campaigns
  • Employee safety manuals
  • Safety notices posted in key locations

Employees are also important to maintaining safety while operating slicers and grinders. These actions can help keep an employee safe.

  • Following safe operating practices
  • Avoiding loose clothing and that might get caught in machinery
  • Removing jewelry and accessories while working
  • Keeping long hair pulled back and away from machines

When an employee is injured

Despite safety precautions, training, and cautious employee behavior, slicing and grinding machine injuries continue to occur. They happen fast and can have permanent consequences. An injured employee should treat the injury as an emergency, beginning with proper medical treatment.

An employer should file a worker’s compensation claim immediately to guarantee the injured employee gets the entitled benefits from the beginning of the disability period until resuming job duties. Because food slicer and grinder injury cases may require long-term involvement with the state workers’ compensation system, injured employees should understand their right to consult with a workers compensation lawyer Arlington Heights for proper guidance in working through the claim process and determining if there are other courses of legal action.

An employer’s responsibility

Under Illinois law, employees have the right to workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured on the job. The employer should voluntarily initiate the claim process or subject his company to possible penalties and criminal prosecution. The employee should receive payments for medical bills, lost wages, and other financial considerations. Even if the employer created an unsafe situation that contributed to a worker’s injury, the employer is only responsible for the benefits available under a comp policy.

The right to file a liability suit

As food slicer and grinding machine injuries involve inherently dangerous machines and operations, an employee should discuss the injuries with a workers compensation lawyer Arlington Heights. A lawyer can determine if a worker has other legal means of recovery due to machine design defects, inherent danger, failure to add guards and other legal issues. A Lawyer may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against a number of non-employer parties with potential responsibility for the machine.

  • Machine and packaging manufacturer
  • Machine distributor and sales outlet
  • Independent maintenance and repair contractors
  • Any non-employer who may have altered the machine

Employees have a right to safety on the job

State and local labor agencies encourage workplace conditions that prevent employee food slicer and grinding machine injuries. OSHA safety guidelines, Child Labor Laws, and employer penalties make employers aware of the potential machine-related hazards, yet the injuries still occur. When an employee is injured by an inherently hazardous machine, a workers compensation lawyer Arlington Heights can investigate the incident and determine if there are alternatives for recovering needed benefits.