Construction Site Safety Basics: Equipment Safety Features.

This week we covered the tragic story of a wood chipper accident in Kosciusko County, Indiana in which 37-year-old James Vician was pulled into an industrial wood chipper and killed instantly. At the time of the construction accident, the IOSHA found, multiple safety violations were to blame for the deadly worker accident – the wood chipper’s speed setting was rigged to stay above maximum speed and the emergency stop lever was strapped back so that wood could be chipped more efficiently.

Accidents that involve rigging equipment safety features are all too common in Indiana and in the rest of the United States. In many cases, heavy machinery manufacturers add safety features to keep construction workers out of danger only to have those workers rig the machines to function without the safety mechanisms in place in order to work faster or take steps out of using a machine. All too often, the business owners, managers, and construction companies know that the equipment isn’t being used properly but do not stop the practices.

In the case of Vician and the deadly wood chipper, the company Tree Core was fined $72,000 by the Indiana OSHA for rigging its equipment’s safety features. Still, the same practices may be occurring at any time throughout the state.

Machine misuse like the kind described above is usually used by workers to make their jobs easier or faster. However, although speeding up a machine or strapping back a emergency stop lever can make day-to-day work easier, it can and does lead to a higher rate of construction worker injuries, accidents, and fatalities.

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller