With summer approaching, many people will be hiring landscapers to do stonework. Stone cutters and splitters who do this type of work may find themselves busier during the summer rush as a result. OSHA has an important Safety and Health Information Bulletin for those who work in the stone cutting and splitting industry and as the busy season approaches, every worker and employer should pay attention to OSHA’s advice.
Our Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers know that stone cutters use many dangerous machines in the course of performing their jobs. Unfortunately, the physical nature of the work, coupled with the tools utilized, creates a situation where many stone cutters are hurt. By following the OSHA guidelines on safety, however, hopefully injuries can be prevented during the summer landscaping season.
The Work Injury Dangers for Stone Cutters
Stone cutters, stone masons, stone slippers and rock cutters all use certain types of tools and machinery when performing their jobs. For example, portable or fixed hydraulic rams are typically used to split stones. When using hydraulic rams, amputation or other injuries are a real possibility. Stone cutting machines that have unguarded cutting blades are also likely to cause serious harm when not used properly or when safety measures are lacking.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that more that 180 injuries resulted from using shears in 2010. Shears are a very similar tool to those used by stone cutters. Of those injured with shears, 100 amputated a body part. The injuries, therefore, are serious and can have a lasting impact on your life in many cases.
While the work done by stone cutters carries some inherent risk, this doesn’t mean that workplaces cannot be made safer by taking the right precautionary steps. OSHA’s Safety and Health Bulletin suggests:
- Ensuring that there is a good machine guarding system in place. A machine guarding system might involve making use of two-handed starting devices; installing barrier guards on the machine, and incorporating electronic safety devices.
- Keeping the unit cleaned and maintained. A regular inspection should be performed to ensure that the machine is in good working order. Problems should be fixed when they arise so workers do not have to use a dangerous or broken machine.
- Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers. Employers should provide workers with PPE that protects them from known-hazards. The use of safety shields or face shields, for example, is recommended.
- Doing a risk-check before starting work. Essentially, this means making sure that the machine and safety procedures are in place. Checking the machine guarding, reading/reviewing the manufacturers’ warnings and instructions; inspecting the machine and making sure workers are where they need to be are all important things to double check.
Employers also need to provide adequate training and supervision to their employees who are performing stone cutting work. Although individual workers can and should try to protect themselves and make sure their job is performed as safely as possible, ultimately it is the employers who establish working conditions and who are responsible for helping workers to avoid injury.
If you were the victim of a work accident in Atlanta, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., to speak with an experienced attorney. For a free consultation call 1-404-303-7770 today.
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