California workers' comp benefits apply to conveyor belt injuries
Heavy machinery makes tasks more manageable and efficient. When employees are trained and equipment is properly maintained, things like cranes and forklifts can make jobs safer, too. However, the same machinery that assists people can also pose risks to worker safety.
Among the equipment presenting the most risk is the conveyor belt. Conveyor belts transport items. They're often associated with assembly lines and are commonplace in factories and warehouses, among other work settings.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), conveyor belts are one of the top five most dangerous pieces of workplace equipment in the United States. Conveyor belt accidents seriously injure, maim, and kill thousands of workers every year.
California sets work safety standards, but accidents and negligent employers who skimp on maintenance, repairs, or training put employees at risk of severe or fatal injuries.
If you were injured in a conveyor belt accident in California, you have the right to seek workers' compensation benefits. In some cases, you may also be able to pursue a third-party claim. The best way to find out is by consulting with an experienced work injury attorney.
Conveyor belt injury FAQ
What is a conveyor belt accident?
Conveyor belts are made up of three main components - the aluminum profile (frame and belt supports), driving unit (motor), and extremity unit (pulleys and straps). Motorized pulleys, looped over rollers, keep bands of fabric, rubber, or metal in continuous motion. The spinning machinery's "pinch points" and in-going material points can be especially dangerous to workers.
Conveyor belt accidents happen when an employee is pinched, dragged, crushed, ensnared, or entangled in the machinery's rotating parts. The equipment can also cause injury when items are ejected due to a malfunction, or they fall off and onto employees. Conveyor belts can also cause electrical, fire, and explosion hazards.
Which industries are most affected by conveyor belt accidents?
The industries that suffer the most conveyor belt injuries are typically mining natural resources, manufacturing, warehouse storage, and transportation.
What injuries do conveyor belt accidents cause?
Conveyor belt injuries are frequently disabling, disfiguring, and excruciating. They can also be fatal. Common conveyor belt injuries include:
- Amputation of fingertips, fingers, arms, legs, and feet.
- Bone break, fracture, or crack in the arms, hands, and fingers.
What are fatal conveyor belt accidents?
OSHA tracks fatal workplace accidents. Among the recent fatal incidents that they investigated involved a worker who was crushed after the worker's head became caught in a conveyor belt.
Can a conveyor belt injury develop over time?
Yes. Not all conveyor belt injuries are caused by a single traumatic event. Soft tissue tears, strains, and sprains are common among employees who work with conveyor belts. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments are damaged by repetitive and/or unnatural motion in an awkward environment. Soft tissue pain can be severe and limit motion. Sometimes known as MSDs, this work injury type has one of the longest average recovery times.
What do I do if I was hurt in a conveyor belt accident or developed an equipment-related work injury?
When workers are injured on the job, they can apply for California workers' compensation benefits. The program covers things like medical bills and partial wages while you heal. Getting all of the money you deserve, however, is not easy. The application process is intense and high stakes, which is why it's in your interest to consult with an experienced workers' comp attorney who knows how to navigate the system in California.
Conveyor belt safety
To help prevent conveyor belt injuries, OSHA says workplaces should:
- Inspect conveyor belts regularly for defects, worn-out parts, and other possible hazards.
- Check often to ensure pinch points are adequately guarded.
- Develop procedures to lockout conveyors.
- Provide proper lighting and working surfaces in the area around the conveyor.
- Install emergency stop buttons near conveyor belts that are accessible to employees.
- Ban loose clothing or accessories around conveyor belts.
- Conduct regular employee safety training.
Injured workers have legal rights. We can protect them.
At McLaughlin & Sanchez, we're proud to stand up for injured workers in San Diego and throughout Southern California. We know what it takes to build a successful work injury case, and we know how to fight for the compensation you're entitled to.