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Striving for machine safety in the workplace

Workers in Colorado who use heavy machinery in their jobs should be trained on safety procedures. Heavy machinery can cause severe injuries including amputations, burns, and crushed hands and fingers. However, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which is a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conducts research in two laboratories to study ways that machinery used in agriculture, transportation, construction and other fields can be made safer.

One laboratory does pilot testing for studies that will later be carried out in the field. At the facility, the instruments and procedures that will be used on a larger scale are tested. The laboratory conducts its tests on models that mimic the machines that the studies will be performed upon. For example, for a study of truck cabs, it has an entire cab simulation complete with all the major operational components. The lab has also participated in research on of farm tractor rollovers, jam alert systems for paper balers, and studies on many other large machines.

Another laboratory works to improve safety in large machines. For example, it has worked on designing structures that protect in case of a tractor rollover and on making it safer to enter and exit construction equipment.

Individuals who are injured at work in a machine accident may apply for workers' compensation benefits. Whether the employee was at fault or not, workers' compensation is available to help cover an employee's expenses following a work-related accident. Benefits can include the costs of medical care as well as a percentage of wages lost as a result of an inability to return to work.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Machine Safety", accessed on Jan. 27, 2015

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