OHS Canada Magazine

Alberta machinist crushed while working lathe

June 3, 2013

Health & Safety Workplace accident -- injury

EDMONTON (Canadian OH&S News)

EDMONTON (Canadian OH&S News)

A 59-year-old worker in Edmonton sustained life-threatening injuries after being crushed while operating a machinery.

Brookes Merritt, occupational health and safety spokes­person for Alberta Human Services in Edmonton, reports that the incident took place at around 5 p.m. on May 24. The machinist, employed by BP Machine Ltd located at 420578 Avenue, was operating a computer-controlled lathe the size of a truck when his upper torso was crushed between the lathe turret and a rear door. He was sent to hospital where he remains on life-support at press time.

Merritt says a stopwork order on the lathe has been issued as Alberta Occupational Health and Safety investigates the incident. “Certainly, the stop­work order would be in place on the lathe so long as [it] was being looked at and inspected at this time,” he says. “It certainly won’t be lifted until the investigation is complete.”

Some of the hazards associated with lathes — a turning machine that shapes various ma­terials such as wood, plastic and metal by removing layers of the material until the desired shape is reached — include contact with rotating parts and entanglement, especially dur­ing high-speed polishing.


The danger is greater with hand-fed lathes as the opera­tor works in close proximity to the rotating stock and the cutting tool. With automatic lathes, the operator can contact the rotating parts by reaching into the work area to adjust components while the machine is running, notes information from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Washington, D.C.

Simon Fridlyand, president of S.A.F.E Engineering Ltd in Toronto, notes that conducting a hazard analysis of the machine being used and performing maintenance are standard procedures. “There are a number of methodologies that can be utilized to prevent accidents to moving parts. The best way is to make sure there is no access to moving parts.”

Identified hazards can be mitigated by installing proper machine guarding, which can either be a fixed-guard or one that is electronically-controlled. Fridlyand says an electron­ically-controlled will signal the machine to stop operating if the presence of a hand is detected. “The quality of the control system for such devices has to be such that should a single fault occur, the machine will overcome it; it will not continue operating,” he explains. “So that is why you may need to have redundancies employed.”

According to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, jewellery or clothing that is loose or dangling shall not be worn near any rotating shaft, spindle, gear, belt or other source of entanglement.

Information from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety in Hamilton, Ontario adds that safety precautions to avoid injuries include ensuring that the lathe has a start or stop button within easy reach of the operator; follow job specifications for the speed, feed and depth of cut for materials being turned; making sure that all work runs true and centered; inspecting chucks for wear or damage; and using a barrier guard when operating the lathe in semi-automatic or automatic mode. All power transmission parts should also be guarded and the power supply to the motor shut off before mounting or removing accessories.

Fridlyand cautions that workers may not understand the full extent of the guarding arrangement for any kind of ma­chine. ”So machine has to be designed with safety in mind,” he stresses, noting that workplace accidents are often the function of improper design. “The worker can only be injured if he or she circumvents the safety. If the machine is properly designed, the chances that an accident may happen is extremely remote.”





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