Pinch points are hazards that exist in virtually all workplaces. Very few tasks do not require workers to use their hands, yet many people fail to stop and consider how serious hand injuries can affect their quality of life. Hand injuries are number two on the list of workplace injuries nationwide. Many of the workers’ compensation claims filed in Minnesota are for crush injuries caused by pinch point hazards.
Pinch points cause crush injuries under numerous circumstances. Frequently reported pinch point injuries occur when workers hook up trailers, lift heavy materials, do equipment maintenance and work on assembly lines. Pinching or crushing occurs when a hand, finger or other body part is caught between a stationary and a moving part of the equipment.
The best advice to avoid pinch point injuries is for workers to avoid putting their hands in positions where they cannot see them. Employers can protect their workers by ensuring hazardous moving or rotating parts of equipment are covered with safeguards to prevent contact. Lockout/tagout devices can protect maintenance or cleaning staff against unanticipated start-up of machinery. However, these devices are of no use if workers are not trained in the proper use of lockout/tagout devices.
Minnesota workers who suffered pinch point injuries may be faced by mountains of medical bills and lost wages. Fortunately, the Minnesota workers’ compensation insurance system is a no-fault program that covers medical expenses and provides a wage-replacement package for those who are unable to return to work for several days or weeks. While the benefits claims process could be challenging, workers can utilize the skills of attorneys with experience in dealing with injured workers and their workers’ compensation claims.