Workers in North Carolina who operate machinery are probably familiar with the concept of machine guarding. OSHA requires every machine part that could cause injury to be guarded, but the means of guarding will differ from machine to machine. Roughly speaking, there are four types of machine guards.

The first two are fixed and adjustable guards. Both are permanent fixtures and are meant to keep workers’ extremities from coming into contact with the flywheels, fan blades and other hazardous components. The adjustable guards, as their name implies, can be manually adjusted depending on the size of the material that the machine needs to handle.

Self-adjusting guards open up just enough to let in whatever material workers will feed into the machine. Table saws and woodworking tools often come with these guards. The fourth type is called the interlocking guard, which will shut a machine off the moment the guard is opened or removed. This is a great safety feature, but an interlocking guard can be opened on accident.

Employers should be aware that every year in the U.S., there are some 18,000 injury cases relating to poorly maintained or improperly used machinery. Every employee must be adequately trained, especially on lockout and tagout procedures, and tools and guards alike must be inspected each time before use.

Machine-related incidents could form the basis for a claim under workers’ compensation law, but injured workers should be aware that their employer may deny payment if there is evidence that the workers themselves were at fault. To learn more about the filing process and to have assistance in case they need to file an appeal, victims may consult a lawyer. The lawyer may explain when it’s a good idea to settle either through a compromise settlement agreement or Form 26A.