Gain the upper hand in safety
Last year, hand injuries accounted for 94 per cent of amputation cases at work: MOM
Workers should always think twice before using their hands to retrieve items from machines.
Last year, hand injuries accounted for about 94 per cent of all amputation cases at work, according to findings by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
And 117 workers suffered partial or complete loss of the use of their hands, including fingers.
MOM findings also revealed that the food manufacturing sector is one of the top contributing industries of such cases.
In 2013, a production operator's left hand had to be amputated after he inserted it into the feeder of an industrial meat mincer. He was mincing cuttlefish heads into meat paste in a processing room when he accidentally swept a cuttlefish ink sac into the machine.
Instinctively, he reached into the feeding orifice of the machine to remove it, causing his hand to be caught and crushed by the rotating grinder in the meat mincer.
He was taken to the hospital with part of the mincer machine attached to his arm.
MOM's investigation revealed that there was no machine guarding attached to the orifice of the feeding tray.
It would have prevented the worker from inserting his hands into the machine.
There was also no warning signage displayed on the machine to warn workers about the dangerous machinery.
Mr Tan Chuan Lye, chairman, food solutions at Sats, said: "There can be no productivity without safety. The two go hand-in-hand together.
"We all have a responsibility to make the workplace safe not only for ourselves but also for our colleagues."
SAFETY FIRST, CONVENIENCE SECOND
Even if it seems like the easier option, workers should always resist the instinct to use their hands to retrieve items.
When feeding ingredients into food grinders or manufacturing machines, workers should use a push stick provided by the company.
To prevent accidents, employers and supervisors should ensure that machine guarding is installed.
Machine guarding consists of rigid physical barriers that enclose dangerous machine parts and restrict the operator's access to dangerous areas by partially covering the point of operation.
When choosing the correct machine guard design, employers and supervisors should take into consideration:
- all intended uses of the machine.
- any reasonably foreseeable incorrect usage of the machine.
- all voluntary and involuntary movements of the operator.
The machine guarding must be positioned in a manner that does not obstruct the operator's view and interfere with the normal operation of the machine.
Employers should also check regularly that the guarding remains in place and is functional.
There can be no productivity without safety. The two go hand-in-hand together.Mr Tan Chuan Lye, chairman, food solutions at Sats
A push stick should also be provided for workers to feed ingredients into food grinders or manufacturing machines.
SAFE USE OF MACHINERY
More than 70 per cent of amputation cases that occurred over the past four years involved the use of industrial machines and tools.
With these alarming numbers, employers and supervisors should be more aware of the following risk control measures.
Prior to assigning work, employers need to ensure that workers are adequately trained and competent in machine operating and maintenance.
Training, which must be properly documented, includes formal classroom training, on-the-job coaching and specific work instructions to individuals or groups.
Under the Workplace Safety and Health Act, employers have to take practicable measures to ensure the safety and health of their employees.
This includes ensuring safety measures are taken for any machinery, equipment, plant, article or process used at the workplace. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $500,000 for the first offence.
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