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Machine entanglement injuries: Can workers’ comp help?

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

Industries that utilize heavy machinery can have some of the most dangerous workplaces. These machines are designed to lift, cut, smash and process raw materials, and if they’re strong enough to manipulate the toughest substances, they can also easily injure the fragile human body.

One serious workplace hazard involving heavy machinery is machine entanglement. It’s important for workers to understand this risk, the types of injuries that can occur and how workers’ compensation can help them if they get injuries.

What is machine entanglement?

Machine entanglement is when a person’s body part, clothing, hair or other worn items gets caught within the moveable elements of a machine. Three primary forms of machine movement could cause entanglement. They are:

  • Pinch points: Moving parts of the machine that can pinch down a body part or article of clothing.
  • Crush points: Two or more machine parts that can crush a caught part.
  • Wrap points: A rotating part of a machine that can catch hair or clothing.

While most heavy machinery have machine guards and employers have policies such as bans on loose-fitting clothing, there’s no guarantee that these measures can protect workers from harm.

Industries with a high risk of machine entanglement include manufacturing, construction, agriculture, and printing.

Possible injuries from entanglement

Injuries from machine entanglement can range from minor cuts and bruises to more severe outcomes like amputations, fractures, or crushing injuries. Recovery may require extensive medical treatment, rehabilitation, and time off work.

Some injuries, however, can be fatal. According to the National Safety Council, entanglement accounted for 143 workplace fatalities in 2021.

How workers’ comp helps

After an entanglement injury, workers’ comp can cover medical expenses, a portion of lost wages, and compensation for permanent disability. It’s a no-fault system, meaning employees don’t need to prove the employer was at fault to receive benefits.

The process typically involves reporting the injury to your employer, seeking medical attention, and filing a claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Deadlines are crucial; for instance, the injury must be reported within 30 days

Navigating the workers’ comp system can be complex. An experienced legal professional can help correctly file all paperwork on time and represent the worker in hearings. If an employer or insurer turns down the worker’s claim, an attorney can also help appeal the denial.