Food Preparation Machine Guard Accident

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Thomas J. Cocchiola, P.E., CSP ::::

Case Synopsis:  A worker in a food processing facility was injured while cleaning a stainless steel conveyor belt on a meat pasteurizing machine.  Workers are required to clean the machine for a daily inspection by a government inspector.  Workers routinely cleaned the stainless steel belt with the conveyor in operation to expedite the daily process because the meat pasteurizing machine was not equipped with controls to incrementally move the conveyor.  On the day of the accident, the moving conveyor belt apparently snagged the worker’s clothing and pulled her toward a series of unguarded conveyor rollers.  Unfortunately, her hand was caught and injured in an unguarded inrunning pinch point.

Expert Analysis:  Safety standards and authoritative references specify guards for accessible inrunning pinch points.  Requirements and recommendations for inrunning pinch point guarding applied to the meat pasteurizing machine conveyor.

An engineering analysis demonstrated the manufacturer did not guard rotating shafts and inrunning nip points at the discharge end of the conveyor despite applicable requirements.  The manufacturer also failed to provide a jog control enabling workers to incrementally move the conveyor to ensure all components were thoroughly and efficiently cleaned in accordance with sanitary requirements.  The engineering analysis identified practical safeguards to protect workers from the hazards and demonstrated that the worker would not have been injured if the manufacturer equipped the machine with required safeguards.

Result: Case settled.

 

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