Conveyor belt systems are dangerous and can cause severe injury
Conveyor belts are used in many workplaces throughout the state. Workers in factories and warehouses throughout New York use them as part of their job. But working with any type of machine can be dangerous, and workers are injured in conveyor belt accidents every year.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), each year, an estimated 9,000 workers are injured and 40 workers die in conveyor belt accidents.
What causes conveyor belt accidents?
The injuries sustained in conveyor belt accidents are often severe and sometimes fatal, which is why employers should have safety measures in place to protect their employees. Some of the most common causes of conveyor belt accidents are:
- Lack of guards or poor assembly – Conveyor belts need to be assembled properly, and guards should be installed. Otherwise, there is a greater risk of workers getting their hair, clothes, or arms caught in pinch or nip points.
- Excessive speed – Some employers may try to boost productivity by increasing the speed of the conveyor belt. But as speed increases, so does the risk of injury.
- Defects or lack of maintenance – A defective part can lead to mechanical failure that causes an accident. An accident can also happen if the conveyor belt is not properly maintained.
- A lack of lockout and tagout procedures – When the conveyor belt needs maintenance or repair work, OHSA regulations for lockout and tagout need to be followed. This prevents the belt from being activated to protect workers from injury.
- Overloads – When there are too many items on a conveyor belt or too much weight, it can lead to an accident that leaves workers injured.
- Inadequate training – Employers have a responsibility to train workers on the proper use of conveyor belts and make them aware of safety risks.
How do workers get hurt by a conveyor belt system?
Common ways workers are injured in conveyor belt accidents include:
- A worker's loose clothing or jewelry gets caught in the conveyor belt mechanisms.
- Workers are hit by pulleys or idlers while adjusting or cleaning their work area.
- Workers are struck by items that fall off the conveyor belt system.
- Body parts are pulled into the machinery, resulting in crush injuries.
- A worker’s gloved fingers or hands are damaged as hands get caught in machinery.
- Repairs are made to machinery still connected to electrical power, resulting in a worker being electrocuted.
- While attempting to clear a block on the belt, a worker suffers a hand injury.
- As workers try to move objects traveling on the belt, a body part is amputated from being crushed or cut.
After a conveyor belt accident, an injured worker is left in pain and in need of medical treatment. They are unable to work because of their injuries, and they lose income as a result.
This can easily lead to a period of emotional and financial stress. Workers are faced with many troubling questions. How will I pay my medical bills? What if I need further treatment? How will my family be able to make ends meet this week?
Call a workers’ compensation lawyer
In New York, employees injured on the job have the right to workers’ compensation benefits. However, the claims process can be complicated, and many initial claims for benefits are denied.
The workers’ compensation attorneys at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP have decades of experience helping injured workers. We guide them through the claims process every step of the way, from ensuring all paperwork includes required information to appealing denials in front of the NYS Worker’s Compensation Board.
If you were injured or a loved one died in a conveyor belt accident, learn more about how we can help. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.