Unsupervised Employee Seriously Injured By Industrial Machinery

Victoria Negron

Written by
— Updated on February 27, 2018

Equipment Engineering Expert

This case involves an employee that was initiating a wash-out for a filling machine. He was left alone to perform this task with no direction from the manager in spite of the fact that he had no formal training in this process. The employee removed the splash guard barrier to gain access to the area of concern not realizing that the machine was still energized. As he was wiping down the machine, his hand became caught between the plates and body. The injury was so severe, the employee’s hand required amputation. An expert in equipment engineering was sought to discuss the safety protocols for operating filling machines like this one.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Are you familiar with this type of machine, or similar machines?
  • 2. What safety measures should be in place to prevent a machine from being energized during this type of task?
  • 3. Are you familiar with the proper safety protocols that should be in place when you have an employee performing work on a machine?

Expert Witness Response E-014417

I am familiar with automated and semi-automated filling machines both in the electrical cell and the food industry. I worked as an in-house advanced equipment engineer for a large manufacturer from 1996-2000. During this time I designed, built, tested and documented manufacturing equipment that required guarding, interlock switches, LOTO procedures and training/safety documentation.

If a machine guard is removed, the machine should automatically de-energize through the implementation of a safety interlock with the certain exception in which the controller may be switched to a mode used for diagnostics and debug. In any case, lock-out-tag-out (LOTO) procedure as described in the CFR 1910 should be followed. Personnel should be properly trained in machine safety and the hazards of bypassing guards and interlocks. I am familiar with safety protocol concerning manufacturing equipment and have designed, debugged, and documented automated and semi-automated manufacturing equipment.

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