Mechanical Hazard Identification, Quantification, and Mitigation

MechanicalHazard Identification, Quantification, and Mitigation

MechanicalHazard Identification, Quantification, and Mitigation

Section1: Introduction

Machinesmake work easier and ensure that people work efficiently. Throughmachines, man has managed to increase production and satisfy theincreased demand of services and goods. Before the development ofmachines, man used to take many days to complete a single task, buttoday, it is possible to complete numerous tasks in an hour’s time.For example, a single machine in the production line can complete acertain work in a minute, which would require roughly 50 people tocomplete in a day. Although they ease performance and increaseproductivity, they increase risks in the workplace, for example,through operation, development, fixing, and maintenance. Theoperation of machines involves numerous hazards hence, the need toprotect workers from preventable and needless injuries. It isnecessary to understand safety precautions when handling machines tocontrol injuries and even unnatural deaths that occur due to poor useof the machines. According to the Occupational Safety &amp HealthAdministration (2016), mechanical hazards happen in points ofoperation, moving parts (rotating, auxiliary, reciprocating, andtransverse moving parts), and power transmission apparatus includingchains, cranks, cams, belts, pulleys, and gears. These types ofoccurrence are fundamental in unpredictable combinations to almostall machines and identifying them helps in protecting workers. Thisreport describes mechanical hazards identification, quantification,and mitigation by providing examples of risk occurrences in aflour-grinding machine.

1.1Hazard Identification

Hazardidentification comprises a critical structure of data collection inrecognizing the areas or situations that cause a risk. Hazardidentification is the processes of diligence examination of theattributes of tasks in a bid to identify all the hazards within thejob site, which are inherent in the job. Frazier, Walker, Kumari, andThompson (2013) contend that identification helps in discovering theprobable causes of accidents. OSHA regulations require the employerand workers to recognize all practically predictable risks at theflour miller that may cause injuries and all the types of accidentsthat may occur at the workplace (Bahn, 2013). Moreover, they shouldidentify the probability of an incident happening and its likelyoutcome. Maintenance, operation, production, laboratories, officeareas, stores, eating halls, workshops, service, and systems comprisesome of the attributes in a workplace inherent to risks (Ericson,2015). The specific duty or rather task that a unit needs to doinclude extensive use of screen based equipment, industrialequipment, audio and visual equipment, construction, dealing withemergency cases, and educating workers on the efficient operation ofmachines.The ultimate goal comprises finding out anything that might causeharm within the working area to avoid incidents in the shortest timepossible. Thus, hazard identification has become an importantpriority that risk management managers should establish. Throughidentifying potential hazards, assessors manage to develop thenecessary solutions to the problems.

1.2Hazard Quantification

Riskquantification denotes the extensive assessment of the possibleresults of a hazard and its likelihood of occurrence. Hazardquantification helps in determining the severity of risks, theeffectiveness of the control measures, and the urgency of the actionsthat individuals should take in case of the occurrence, and the stepsinvolved in assessing and managing the risk (Bahn, 2013 Frazier etal., 2013). As in the case of the flour milling machine, which is thecore topic of this discussion, organizations explore inter-relatedfactors that contribute to risks. For instance, rotating motionsmight clasp clothing and through contact with the skin, force an arminto a precarious position resulting in injury. Through hazardquantification, the management quantifies or evaluates the severityof the harm. After the quantification process, the risk managementteam applies the necessary risk measures to prevent or reduce thechances of an accident occurring within the workplace.

1.3Hazard Mitigation or preventive strategies to reduce the risk of thehazard

Theconcept of risk management and risk assessment is paramount towardshazard mitigation and the public control of health and safety withinthe workplace.Theultimate role of risk mitigation is to ensure that organization takesinto account all chances of risks through extensive monitoring andexamination of the efficiency of the safety measures that a firm hasembraced. Furthermore, risk mitigation comprises the documentation ofdaily outcomes to keep updates of the features involved (OccupationalSafety &amp Health Administration, 2016). The International LaborOrganization (ILO) asserts that organizations should embracepreventive culture to control various health hazards that occurduring the work process. Health and safety agencies shouldcompetently investigate cases of non-compliance and penalizeorganizations against ILO principles as required (Chinniah, 2015).Organizations should create mitigation planning teams to setmitigation goals, carefully define such goals, and begin to implementhazard mitigation strategy. Hazard mitigation plan provides the keydirection on how to handle machines within an organization to ensurethat it reduces the chances of harm. According to Frazier et al.(2013), basic steps of hazard mitigation help organizations inpreventing or reducing risks. These steps, often developed beforemitigating a risk assist in eliminating, preventing, substituting,and controlling risks. Hazard mitigation is an important process inensuring that companies or individuals analyze and manage riskssuccessfully.

Elimination:Hazard elimination refers to the extensive removal of the hazards andtherefore ensuring that there is the eradication of all the possibleaccidents. The elimination process intends to eliminate the riskentirely without shifting it elsewhere. It is a permanent solution tothe hazard since record keeping safety auditing, training,monitoring, and surveillance will no longer be required. According toEricson (2015), elimination of a hazard is the most efficient andfirms should select it in preference to other forms of strategiessince it eradicates the need for other controls.

Substitution:Substitution is a strategy that seeks to replace the hazard by theone that represents the lower risk. This form of control is notcomprehensively effective since there will still occur a risk. Acompany decides to replace a high-risk process by another processthus, reducing the severity of risk.

EngineeringControl:This method involves the extensive analysis and restriction ofengineering physical tools to limit hazard. Design control involvesreforming the working environment, rearranging the workers, erectingbarriers to interrupt the transmission that occurs between the workerand the possible hazard. A firm puts all the structures in place toensure that it reduces the level of hazard.

Administrativecontrols:These organizational implements eliminate any exposure to risk. Theadministration documents all the necessary information, which theworkers in an organization must follow in order to minimize thechances of hazard occurrence. The controls help to diminish themagnitude of a risk or accident.

PersonalProtective Equipment:PPE involves the wearing of protective clothing by the workershandling machines to prevent any potential risk of hazard. PPE havebecome essential in the manufacturing department, as they protectworkers from hazards and injuries. For example, a headdress protectsworkers from falling objects and gloves from moving parts.

Section2: Examples of Occupational Accident in Flour Millers

Tocontinuously protect employees, numerous Flour Millers have embracedoccupational safeties that include prevention of contact withmachines, wearing protective materials, prevention of fallingobjects, securing machines permanently, and hindering new hazards orinterference. A flour-milling machine is an example of a mechanicalstructure thus, risks occurring during its operation comprise amechanical hazard. Governments mandate organizations to protectemployees from injuries in the delivery of their duties (Bahn, 2013).It is essential for organizations to create safe environments forworkers and processes that help identify and prevent the occurrenceof risks. Moreover, firms should regularly replace or check machines,train workers on how to efficiently handle and operate machines, anddevelop appropriate measures to avoid or prevent the occurrence ofrisks. By looking at examples of mechanical hazards, it is possibleto note that most of these hazards occur on the backdrop ofnegligence, inefficiency, and system failure. It means that peoplecan avoid or prevent the risks, if they develop the correct measuresand check on any gaps regularly.

2.1A worker lost an arm after the grinding machine trapped him

Aworker lost an arm after it was stuck in a moving part of themachine. During the operation of the machine, some parts move posinga great danger to workers. After the worker’s arm came into contactwith the moving part, the machine did not stop and it only stoppedafter other workers heard the employee crying loudly in pain.Technicians had to pull the machine apart to ease pressure, andrelease his already crushed arm, which a doctor later amputated atthe shoulder. Furthermore, the worker suffered several scratches andbruises on his neck, head, and back. The employee sued the companyand a judge awarded him $30,000. State and federal safety agenciescarried out investigations and found out that the company did nothave safe systems and working environments. The agencies concludedthat organizations should always securely isolate and switch offmachines with moving parts when not in use. Moreover, they assertedthat the production unit should ensure that projection of themachine, for example, bolts and setscrews remain covered. Accordingto Occupational Safety &amp Health Administration (2016),organizations should secure machines in isolation to prevent contact.This inhibits the moving parts of a machine from trapping parts of aworker’s body. Furthermore, the organization should develop andinflexibly secure safety pins and guards in machines to prevent theexposure of the moving parts of projections. Supervisors shouldalways ensure that workers have the necessary protective clothing toeliminate hazards. Protective clothing, such as, caps, safetygoggles, face shields, hair nets, boots, and safety clothes ensurethat loose clothing are not caught in moving or rotating parts.However, firms should make sure that these protective gears do notcreate new hazards as a facepiece, for example, can hinder the visionof a worker. Frazier et al. (2013) contend that making sureinterferences or the development of new hazard do not occur definethe most effective ways of mitigating risks since workers enjoy asafe working environment.

2.2Power failure

Inone incident, there was a power failure, which resulted from exposedand frayed wirings. Moreover, the technicians wiring the workshop hadnot correctly grounded the electrical system, which resulted in powerleak and vibration eventually causing the machine to explode. Severalpeople were injured, the machine permanently damaged, and the firmexperienced a loss. The supervisor responded quickly to the incidentand helped the injured workers, which prevented the occurrence ofsevere injuries or death. However, the firm should have avoided thesecosts if the technicians had done proper wiring, as this would haveprotected the machine from damage and the workers from any injury.Replacement of frayed or exposed parts would have helped in avoidingthe occurrence of the incident. According to Occupational Safety &ampHealth Administration (2016), operators should always ensure thatmachines do not have any exposed or frayed parts. Moreover, it is theduty of any firm to ensure that it does not create new hazards byreplacing worn-out parts, rolling exposed parts, and insulatingelectrical wires.

2.3A machine crushed and killed a worker instantly

Loosein-running nips and projections created entanglement, abrasion, tear,and burning resulting in the machine crushing. A flour-grindingmachine has several moving and rotating parts thus, an organizationshould see to it that technicians firmly secure the parts to ensurethe machine performs efficiently. However, in one incident, one ofthe machine crushed and part of it fell on a worker killing himinstantly. Due to lack of proper maintenance and safe lubrication,the in-running nips and projections became weak and grazed resultingin weak points and eventual failure or crushing of the machine. Oncethe machine crushed, it was impossible to prevent the associatedrisks, but the firm should have done more to prevent this occurrence.Four other workers were seriously injured and the company chargedwith negligence. The firm lost its credibility, income, and had toraise money to buy new machines. Furthermore, it had to firetechnicians who were supposed to maintain the machines and hired newones. The firm should have avoided the associated risks, injuries tothe four workers if it had placed alert signs in the machines. Thesigns would have sent notifications upon the failure of the machinesthus, preventing the loss that the firm experienced. To address thechallenge in future, the organization should establish a hazard codein all the department and color and shape of the signs used to warnworkers on different emergencies. For example, a red light mightsignify danger while a blue one should signify machine failure. Thecolorimetric, size, and photometric features of such signs should bevisible to ensure that all workers see it and easily understand andinterpret the message (Bahn, 2013). The Large and successfulorganization invests on boards and alert signs. Through employees’empowerment programs, the management trains the employees the basicsof interpreting what each sign means. Organizations that educate andtrain workers on the best methods to avoid and prevent hazardsexperience minimal cases of accidents.

2.4A worker operated a machine inefficiently resulting in failure

Aworker fell asleep and during operation, failed to stop the machine,caused irreparable damage to the machine and injuries to threeemployees. After the worker failed to stop the machine, it went onoperating although it was not grinding any flour. The machineoverheated and broke its shaft, which exploded splitting hot air tothe other workers. The company replaced the shaft, paid for theworkers’ treatment, and purchased automatic systems that triggeredthe machines to stop instinctively when not operated for a long time.Several aspects might have caused the incident including tiredness,lack of automation, and carelessness. According to Ericson (2015),working for long hours causes tiredness and sleeplessness, and itbrings carelessness during work. The worker fell asleep because hehad to work for long periods and had to operate the machine for thewhole day. In reacting to the incident, the management introduced 5hours’ shifts during the night shifts and 7 hours’ shifts duringthe day. Thus, workers were able to work efficiently and competently.Machines are dangerous if operated carelessly. The leading causes ofmachines accident that occurs during the operation of the machinesinclude the failure to use the lockout, reaching it to ‘clear`equipment, unauthorized handling of devices, and loose or missingmachine guards. All the moving parts of the machines expose theperson operating machines to injury. The moving parts, the hotsurfaces, and sharp edges are the hazard to workers who engage in theoperations. Improper use of such machines cause machine-relatedinjuries and failure to wear protective clothing or the improper useof safeguards increase the probability of the occurrence (Chinniah,2015). The rotating parts of the machines expose the user toinjuries, and this might be dangerous. In this regards, firms shouldensure that workers work under the right environments and thesecuring of structures remain balanced to help in the identificationand mitigation of risks.


Conclusively,it is obvious that mechanical hazard is a serious and significantelement of accidents in the workplace. On the other hand, the safetyof workers is as important as the success of the organization, whichmeans that firms should guarantee the wellbeing of all employees. Theorganization should prioritize the safety of the workers whenever theemployees handle machines in various industries. The main causes ofmachines accident that occurs during the operation of the machinesinclude failure to use the lockout, system failure, exposed parts,unauthorized handling, inefficient operation, and loose or missingmachine guards. The projections or the moving parts of the machinesexpose workers to injuries hence, the need to cover these parts andensures that the engineers secure them firmly. Operators shouldalways ensure that they switch off machines when not in use and ifpossible secure them in isolation. Organizations should giveemployees protective clothing, train them on how to operate machinesor recognize possible risks, and engage them in assessing andmitigating risks. By doing so, a company manages to avoid risks andif they happen, mitigate their effects efficiently. The companyshould have avoided all the incidences if it had developedcomprehensive and safe structures to identify, eliminate, control,prevent, and mitigate risks. Moreover, firms should structure engineand administrative controls in line with operations, as well as, dealeffectively with any gap in identifying non-mechanical hazards.Conclusively, firms should develop efficient processes andguidelines, train workers, and create safe and secure workplaces toensure that they identify, avoid, prevent, and mitigate riskssuccessfully.


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Chinniah,Y. (2015). Analysis and prevention of serious and fatal accidentsrelated to moving parts of machinery.&nbspSafetyscience,&nbsp75,163-173.

Ericson,C. A. (2015).&nbspHazardanalysis techniques for system safety.John Wiley &amp Sons.

Frazier,T. G., Walker, M. H., Kumari, A., &amp Thompson, C. M. (2013).Opportunities and constraints to hazard mitigation planning.&nbspAppliedGeography,&nbsp40,52-60.

OccupationalSafety &amp Health Administration. (2016). Chapter1: Basics of machine safeguarding.United States Department of Labor. Retrieved 11 November 2016 from