Mechanical hazards are hazards created by the use of or exposure to either powered or manually operated equipment, machinery and plant. Mechanical injuries are mostly caused either by contact or entanglement with machinery. Part of the machinery that could be hazardous to workers include sharp edges, hot surfaces, moving parts, flywheel, pulley, belt, etc.
Where mechanical hazards occur
It occurs majorly in three (3) area:
- The point of operation: Point where work is performed on the material, such as cutting, shaping, boring, etc
- Power transmission apparatus: Components of the mechanical system that transmit energy to the part of the machine performing the work. Example, flywheels, pulleys, belts, connecting rods, couplings, cams, spindles, chains, cranks, gears, etc.
- Machine moving parts: Parts of the machine that move while the machine is working. These may include reciprocating, rotating, and transverse moving parts, as well as feed mechanisms and auxiliary parts of the machine.
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Common Mechanical injuries
- Fracture: Fracture is the medical term for a broken bone. It can be classified as simple, compound or complete fracture.
- Puncturing/Stabbing: Puncturing results when an object penetrates straight into the body and pulls straight out, creating a wound in the shape of the penetrating object.
- Straining and spraining: A strain results when muscles are overstretched or torn. Strains and sprains can cause swelling and intense pain.
- Impact: Being hit by ejected parts of the machinery or equipment
- Friction and abrasion: A section of the skin being rub away by the machine.
- Entrapment: Being caught in a moving part of a machine or equipment or plant.
- Crushing: Collision of plant with a person can result to crushing.
- Shear: Can be two moving parts (sharp or otherwise) moving across one another.
- High pressure injection: This is an injury caused by high-pressure injection of oil, grease, diesel fuel, gasoline, solvents, water, or even air, into the body.
- Cut: Severing of a human body part by a cutting motion e.g. amputation
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Managing mechanical hazards
All hazards associated with the use of machinery can be managed by adopting safe work procedures and the application of appropriate safeguards.
Safeguarding helps to minimize the risk of accidents from machine by forming a barrier which protect the operator or other persons from the equipment hazards point/danger area. Most guards are used at the point of operation.
There are different types of machine guards.
Types of machine guards
Fixed guards: Fixed guard is a permanent part of the machine. It is not dependent upon moving parts to function. It may be constructed of sheet metal, screen, wire cloth, bars, plastic, or any other material that is substantial enough to withstand whatever impact it may receive and to endure prolonged use.
Interlocked guards: Shut down the machine when the guard is not securely in place or is disengaged. The main advantage of this type of guard is that it allows safe access to the machine
Adjustable guards: Provide a barrier against a variety of different hazards associated with different production operations. They have the advantage of flexibility. However, they are not dependable barrier as other guards, and they require frequent maintenance and careful adjustment.
Self adjusting guard: The openings of these barriers are determined by the movement of the stock. As the operator moves the stock into the danger area, the guard is pushed away, providing an opening which is only large enough to admit the stock. After the stock is removed, the guard returns to the rest position. This guard protects the operator by placing a barrier between the danger area and the operator.
Inasmuch as safeguarding helps manage hazards associated with the use of machinery and equipment, the need for safe work procedure must not be left out. The safe work procedures covers:
- Adopting safe system of work
- Equipment inspection and maintenance
- Adequate training and
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