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Safety Alert from Environmental Health and Safety on Machine Safety and Working Alone

April 27, 2011

A recent fatal accident at Yale University has highlighted the importance of safe work practices with industrial machines and observing policy related to working alone.

A student at Yale University died on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 while performing work related to her senior project. The student’s hair got caught in a metal lathe she was working with and pulled her in. The cause of death was reported to be asphyxiation due to neck compression. Fire officials were called to the scene of the accident at 2:33 a.m. and found the student with no pulse.

Machine safety:

Tools and machines with exposed moving parts present possible safety risks. Students and staff should not operate machines with exposed moving parts without training in safe operation. In particular, observe the following guidelines:

  • Never operate a machine without first receiving training in its safe operation;

  • Never use a machine for a purpose other than what it was intended for;

  • Remove clutter or other items which may contribute to slip, trip, and fall hazards from the areas surrounding machines;

  • Understand the machine safeguards in place and how they provide protection against the hazards for which they are

  • Understand how to use the machine safeguards including any tools and personal protective equipment required for safe

  • Never remove machine safeguards without first following proper machine lockout/tagout procedures;

  • Remove waste stock as it is generated;

  • Operators should not wear loose-fitting clothing, jewelry, gloves, or other items that could become entangled in

  • Long hair should be worn under a cap or otherwise contained to prevent entanglement in moving machinery.

Working alone in the laboratory:

UNH policy described in the laboratory safety plan dictates that students and staff working alone in the laboratory:

  • Obtain written permission (e.g., e-mail, letter) from the principal investigator or laboratory supervisor to work alone in
    the laboratory; and

  • Ensure that a means to contact emergency response personnel is available when working alone in the laboratory.

Some departments have more restrictive policies which do not allow working alone; check with your department or supervisor before working alone in a laboratory or other potentially hazardous work environment.

For More Information consult the UNH laboratory safety plan

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) machinery safe work practices

OEHS is available to assist with questions and/or training requests. Contact Brad Manning, director, 2-2571, Andy Glode, laboratory safety officer: 2-5038, or Brian Cournoyer, occupational safety coordinator: 2-4761.

Machine hazards and safeguarding:

Machine hazards:
Equipment and machinery, whether it is used as part of an academic program or facilities maintenance activities, such as a table saw, drill press, or a lathe; building mechanical systems such as an air handling units and water pumps; or farm machinery, all have potential hazards. The hazards can involve a variety of mechanical motions and actions that can lead to injuries should they become contacted. Machine hazards typically involve one or more of the following:

  • Rotating parts

  • In running nip points

  • Reciprocating (back and forth) motions

  • Transverse (single line) motions

  • Point of operation (where the work takes place)

The Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) has established comprehensive standards regulating machine use and safeguarding. For the most part, areas of any piece of machinery or equipment where someone could come into contact with hazardous mechanical motions must be safeguarded.

To minimize potential risks and exposures to machine hazards, equipment and machinery should be provided with the appropriate safeguards. Even the most elaborate safeguarding system cannot offer effective protection unless users know how to operate equipment/machinery properly. Specific detailed training is therefore a critical part of any safeguarding program. Thorough training should include the following:

  • Description of machinery and associated hazards, what the equipment is used for, and just as important, what is not to be used for;

  • The safeguards in place, operation, and any tools or personal protective equipment require for use

  • How and under what circumstances safeguards can be removed and by whom (at UNH safeguards can be removed only by authorized employees and only after the equipment/machinery has been isolated to a neutral energy state following the proper lockout/tagout procedures)

  • What to do in the event a safeguard is damaged, missing, or unable to provide adequate protection

  • Who to contact if there are any questions or concerns.

Equipment and machinery used at UNH present risks for users however, through proper education, hazard recognition, and safeguarding we can work to maintain a high level of safety for faculty, staff, and students.

For more information visit the OSHA web site at www.osha.gov or can contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS). OEHS is available to assist with questions and/or training requests.

At UNH Environmental Health and Safety, contact: Brad Manning, director, 2-2571; Andy Glode, laboratory safety officer, 2-5038; Brian Cournoyer, occupational safety coordinator, 2-4761.

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