The recent death of a car manufacturing worker in the United States has highlighted how important it is for companies to have proper safety protocols in place when using heavy machinery.
The 53-year-old man was crushed to death in a mechanical press at a car assembly plant in Detroit last week. An investigation is currently underway to determine the exact circumstances.
The fatal work accident reportedly occurred inside a waste water treatment facility at the Fiat Chrysler Jefferson North assembly plant. The man was "caught in a machine press suspended a little bit above the ground," and subsequently died of his injuries.
We don’t know the reasons behind this tragic death but it is crucial any health and safety investigation ascertains whether the machine malfunctioned or whether a failure to adhere to safety protocols was responsible.
The UK manufacturing sector is made up of a range of diverse industries encompassing more than 2.5m workers. Over the last five years, an average of 22 manufacturing workers have died in fatal work accidents each year and more than 3,000 have suffered serious injuries.
The kind of machine presses car manufacturers employ in assembly plants need to be maintained to the highest possible standards, and anyone using or working around such machinery needs to have undergone the proper training.
As is so often the case with fatal accidents of this nature, if employers only identify the risks involved in the use of such machinery and employ all necessary counter-measures to protect their staff, these deaths can nearly always be prevented.
In our experience of fatal work accidents involving heavy machinery, the question of employee access to the enclosures around dangerous moving parts is frequently an issue. When, for example, maintenance and repairs to equipment are taking place, it is absolutely crucial that employers develop safe isolation and monitoring procedures.
If all necessary risk control measures are employed then these types of work accident should never be allowed to occur. Access gates around machine parts that can obviously kill, should only ever be opened once the power has been isolated.
Major car manufacturers have very thorough safety protocols in place and it is very surprising that an accident like this was allowed to happen.
Matthew Tomlinson is a Senior Personal Injury Lawyer specialising in work accident compensation claims for Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
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