California residents who work around heavy machinery are no doubt aware of what are called pinch points. These refer to any area in a machine where two or more moving parts, at least one of which rotates in a circle, interact in such a way as to pose a hazard to workers. On farms, pinch points are often found in conveyors, belt drivers, gears, sprockets, feed rollers and chain drives.
Workers may be injured in pinch points when they are, for example, trying to clean equipment. Others may fall into the pinch points or have loose clothing caught in them. The result of these incidents can range from cuts and bruises to broken or crushed bones in the feet and hands. Many times, victims must have the injured limb amputated.
Pinch point incidents can be largely avoided if workers and those supervising them take a few simple steps. Everything begins with an inspection and the installation of machine guards to protect against any pinch points that have been identified. There should be a label to warn about the pinch points.
When a machine needs maintenance, workers should not begin until all rotating parts are completely still. Workers must watch where they step, wear close-fitting clothing and not wear jewelry or drawstring jackets near the machine.
Pinch point incidents are behind many workplace injury cases. Whatever the extent of their injuries, victims might file for workers’ compensation benefits and receive wage replacement as well as be covered for all medical expenses. If they are temporarily or permanently disabled as a result of their injuries, the benefits may reimburse them for this, too. Benefits are not guaranteed as employers have the right to deny them, so victims may want a lawyer to help them file a claim.