Work Safe

Heavy Machinery

The use of heavy machinery is prevalent in a number of industries ranging from construction to manufacturing, farming, mining and more. While there’s no arguing that machines can greatly increase the efficiency and ease of many work-related tasks, they can also pose a significant threat of injury or even death when poorly maintained or used improperly.

Training your workforce on heavy equipment maintenance, operation and safety practices can go a long way toward limiting exposure to hazards and eliminating accidents and injuries altogether. A well-implemented, ongoing safety program can help you do the heavy lifting toward a safer, more productive work environment for your company and its employees.

How important is heavy machinery safety?
When you’re weighing the importance of dedicating time and resources to safety training and education, consider these alarming statistics:

Machine-related injuries were ranked second after motor vehicle-related injuries among the leading causes of occupational injury fatalities, accounting for approximately 14% of total deaths (1).

According to a 2006 study by the Journal of Safety Research (2), heavy equipment operators and construction laborers made up 63% of heavy equipment and truck related deaths.

  • Backhoes and trucks were involved in half the deaths
  • Rollovers were the main cause of death for heavy equipment operators
  • Being struck by heavy equipment or trucks (especially while backing up), and equipment loads or parts were the major causes of death for workers on foot and maintenance workers
  • According to the National Safety Council, the deadliest cause of injury among farm workers is rollover of heavy equipment, such as tractors.

1 NIOSH NTOF Data, 1980-1989.
2 Journal of Safety Research, Vol. 37, Issue 5, pgs. 511-517, 2007.

What’s the real cost of workplace accidents?
The impact of workplace injury extends far beyond the costs of medical care, especially when you consider these indirect areas of impact:

  • Morale
  • Group health insurance costs
  • Effects on family members
  • Loss in productivity
  • Skill replacement
  • Tight employment market
  • Cost of hiring new employees

In 2002, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 92,560 private-sector lost-time injuries caused by machinery. The median number of lost workdays resulting from these injuries was 7—with 24% of the total incidents resulting in 31 or more lost-work days.

According to data compiled by Missouri Employers Mutual Insurance, the average cost of a lost-time claim is over $20,000—a cost that could easily be avoided through a genuine commitment to workplace safety.

Do you have questions about how Missouri Employers Mutual or the WorkSAFE Center can help your workplace? Contact us today to learn more about our resources and custom safety training.

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