Why Older Machine Presses Are So Dangerous
Even if you are not a blue collar worker, you have probably seen a power press before. These are the machines that are used to cut, punch, or form products. In addition to metal, you can use these pieces of equipment to make T-shirts and other manufactured products. On the sides of the machines are parts known as slides that guide the metal through a definite path of motion.
There are three types of power presses that can be used:
- Hydraulic. With this type of press, water or oil pressure is used to move the slide and ram of the machine up and down. Hydraulic presses are able to operate at a long distance and at a more constant speed.
- Machine. This type of press is great for quick processing and is pretty easy to maintain. Like hydraulic presses, machine presses are free of fluid leakage. Workers who use machine presses have to press a plate or die on or against a workpiece to work the press.
- Pneumatic. This type of press is able to form workpieces after exposing them to a certain amount of pressure. Compared to hydraulic presses, pneumatic presses are powered by pressurized air or gas. After a workpiece is centered in the middle of the frame, the top of the press drops down and manipulates the workpiece.
What are the dangers of machine presses?
All of these power presses come with a certain hazard for workers; “American workers who operate and maintain machinery suffer about 18,000 amputations, lacerations, crushing injuries, abrasions, and over 800 deaths per year. Investigators often find the equipment, such as power press brakes and forging machines, lack adequate safety mechanisms.” However, one of the most dangerous power presses to operate are machine presses, especially when they are older.
Compared to hydraulic and pneumatic presses, workers are required to operate the mechanical features by hand. This can increase the chances of an amputation happening, especially if the machine press has been worn down over time. A traumatic amputation is an amputation that occurs when you suddenly lose your body part in an accident. When a part of your body has been amputated, you can suffer from excessive bleeding, infection, and shock. In some instances, there are occasions where your body part can be reattached, but it all depends on how fast you seek medical attention.
Some of the older machine presses are also missing critical devices like reverse buttons. This may be something that doesn’t matter to you at the moment, but if a workers’ hand gets stuck in the press, there are only two real options: either let your hand continue to move through the press and risk an irreparable crushing injury, or wait for a team to disassemble the press and risk bleeding out, infections, blood clots, and shock, all with the knowledge that you may lose more than just your hand by the time you are able to get help.
Workers can sustain serious injuries from accidents involving machine presses, including burns, blindness, and fractures, but crush injuries and limb loss are, perhaps, the most catastrophic.
How are power press injuries treated?
The nature of your injury will determine your course of medical treatment. In the event of a traumatic amputation, you will need several types of medical procedures. You may need multiple surgeries over time. Depending on the body part that was severed and the critical care you receive, you may need a prosthesis. After getting your prosthesis, you will need physical and occupational therapy to learn how to function without the use of your limb.
Crushing injuries – even if the body part does not need to be amputated or is not severed at the moment of the incident – also have extensive medical treatment plans. Surgery is almost certainly guaranteed, but crush injuries often cause extensive damage to nerves and muscles that affect mobility and can leave a worker in chronic pain.
How a Chattanooga injury lawyer can help workers
When you suffer an amputation at the workplace, you deserve to seek compensation for your injuries. It is the responsibility of your employer to provide a safe workplace for you. Part of providing a safe workplace is to ensure that all machinery is safe for all employees to use. Your employer may be open to legal liability (and certainly OSHA fines) for failing to provide a safe work environment.
Because your accident happened at the workplace, you can automatically file a workers’ compensation claim. Filing a workers’ compensation claim will pay for all of your medical expenses, and provides a weekly wage loss benefit (about two-thirds of your weekly salary) to address your daily living costs while you seek treatment. If you have suffered permanent disability or disfigurement, there are additional benefits as well. The program also provides a death benefit for family members if a worker dies on the job or from their injuries.
In some cases, there may be third-party liability as well. For example, if a power press’ design has a flaw in it that makes it inherently unsafe, the manufacturer may be liable. These types of product liability claims can be a challenge to pursue without competent legal counsel.
Wagner & Wagner has been the injury law firm Chattanooga trusts since 1945. We have successfully represented injured workers who struggled to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, or whose benefits were cut off before they should have been; we have also represented workers in personal injury and wrongful death claims. During your free consultation with a Chattanooga injury attorney from our firm, we discuss what all of your options are so that you can make the right choice for you.
At Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law, we pride ourselves on being trustworthy and reliable for our clients. If you need help obtaining your workers’ compensation benefits, reach out to a Chattanooga workers’ compensation attorney today. Call our office at 423-756-7923, or complete our contact form to schedule your free consultation. We represent clients in Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN and throughout North Georgia.
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