Food preparation injuries may not be too common, but when they do occur, the injuries are often serious and require urgent treatment.
In 2013, around 4,000 work-related slicer and grinder accidents occurred across the U.S. While some injuries were minor, many others caused serious injury such as amputations and permanent disability. Because meat grinding and food slicer accidents are a cause of concern, OSHA began a campaign called ‘Preventing cuts and amputations from food grinders’.
Food Slicer and Grinder Injuries
Meat processing and packing machines are included on the Fair Labor Standards Act list of dangerous non-farm jobs for people under the age of 18. Due to the high risk of injuries, children under the age of 18 are not allowed to work these equipment.
When an employee is operating, maintaining, performing machine setup, jam-clearing, or inspecting, there is a risk of severe injuries including amputations. Food grinding and slicing machines cause workplace injuries, because they require workers to perform activities using one or more of the ‘dangerous motions’ as described by OSHA. These motions include rotating, traversing, punching, cutting, shearing, and reciprocating.
How to Prevent Food Slicing and Grinding Injuries
Employers and workers need to work together to ensure employee safety. The following steps can go a long way in preventing food slicing and grinding injuries:
- Proper training of workers before they start using grinders and slicers
- Adequate supervision
- Hazard recognition
- Enforcement of safety standards
- Safety campaigns
- Machine barriers, emergency lockouts, and safeguards
- Worker safety manuals
Workers also play an important role in creating a safe workplace. They can take the following steps to prevent injuries:
- Not wearing loose clothing and that can get caught in machinery.
- Following safe operating practices.
- Keeping long hair pulled back and away from machines.
- Removing accessories and jewelry while working on these machines.
Legal Options for Injured Workers
Despite all safety measures, injuries related to food grinding and slicing cannot be completely prevented. If a worker suffers an injury while grinding meat or slicing food, he or she may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Workers compensation will cover the injured worker’s medical bills and a portion of lost wages.