Equipment guarding and hazardous energy control are both near the top of the list of most frequently cited safety violations in the wood processing industry nationwide, including Oklahoma. Although manufacturers include many more safety features than in past years, the safety of employees remains the responsibility of the employers. This responsibility starts with a thorough risk assessment to determine and eliminate hazards that could cause workplace injuries.
The risk assessment must form the basis of a written safety program to manage the company’s overall protocols for the prevention of employee illnesses and injuries, with a re-evaluation at least once a year. Each worker must receive safety training relevant to his or her job, with annual refresher training. Whenever new equipment is installed, thorough safety training is crucial.
Even the best-written safety plan serves no purpose if it is not enforced. To maintain a high safety standard, employers should schedule and carry out routine safety inspections, which can ensure that safety standards are supervised and enforced. Under no circumstances may guards or lockout/tagout devices be bypassed or disconnected to render them inoperative. To prevent entanglement with moving machine parts, workers must know the risks posed by loose clothing and long hair that is not tied and in a net.
Oklahoma workers in the wood processing industry who are suffering the consequences of workplace injuries might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages. Those who have suffered catastrophic injuries like amputation or crushed hands or fingers are typically awarded additional benefits. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can provide valuable support and guidance throughout the benefits claims process, which could be challenging.