November 30, 2022
Health & Safety

How Machines with Moving Parts can be Dangerous

One headline during the week caught my attention; Baggage handler dies when her hair became stuck in belt loader at New Orleans airport. Follow this link to read the story


Some excerpts from the news above; The incident occurred at approximately 10:20 p.m. at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans when the woman who was employed by GAT Airline Ground Support, which contracts with Frontier, was working to offload an inbound aircraft after it landed when her hair somehow managed to get stuck in the belt loader.


In some other news;

Referenced in the WSH Alert bulletin; Worker struck by moving machine parts On 11 February 2022, a worker was fatally injured when he reached into an automated machine through an open inspection window while it was in operation. The machine was equipped with a safeguard to stop operation once the window was opened, but the safeguard did not function at the time of the incident. The worker’s head was struck by the machine’s moving parts before his body fell into the machine. The worker was pronounced dead at the scene. Read the bulletin here


Unknown date, August accident in Canada – 3 October 2018 CBC (Canada) “Ontario’s ‘outdated’ prosthetics program shortchanging amputees, critics say” reports Emilio Dutra-Lidington, 19 of Canada, speaking out on the high cost of prosthetics not being met by Canadian government assistance following his August 2018 propeller accident on Lac Pemichangan in western Quebec Canada. He lost his right leg at the hip and four fingers off his right hand to the propeller of the boat that ran over him.   Full story here


9 December accident in Australia – 9 December 2018 NewsdotCom (Australia) “Boy Drowns in Boating Accident in Bonnie Doon” reports a 5-year-old boy fell from the front of a wakeboard boat on Lake Eildon on at Bonnie Doon about 1pm on Sunday 9 December. The young boy, wearing a life jacket, was struck by, and entrapped by the propeller. The accident is listed as a drowning. His parents were performing CPR when authorities arrived. The boy died at the scene. Full story here

These are real life accidents involving moving parts of machines. In today’s article we will look at how moving parts of machines are hazards and the risks involved.


What are machines with moving parts?


Machines generally have stationary parts and parts that move, some machines don’t have any moving parts at all. Machines with moving parts; belt loaders, mixers, saws, conveyor belts, drills, propellers…etc.

These parts support movement, operations/efficiency, or the feedback mechanism of these machines.

The likely risks; cause varying kinds of injuries and in most scenarios instant death. Deaths/amputations due to moving parts of machinery are a noteworthy cause of accidents in the manufacturing industries e.g. food production plant, processing plants… etc. some risks are;

  • Crushing
  • Amputation
  • Laceration by jagged edges.
  • Stabbing by protruding parts and sharp points.
  • Cuts
  • Electrocution by energized machines, or leakage.


There are many factors surrounding accidents caused by moving parts of machines. Some accidents can be caused by the following;

  • Contact with points of operation of the machinery and unguarded machines
  • Electric shock
  • Unsafe practices like bypassing of safeguard
  • Carrying out maintenance on energized or machines still turned on
  • Failure to ensure isolation of power through the lock out tagout, this also ensures that the machine will not be turned on unknowingly by a coworker during maintenance or cleaning.
  • It is quite easy to get injured or killed when; belts or loose part of clothing get stuck in the moving parts, and proceeds to pull the worker in, consequently crushing/trapping worker.
  • It is advised to not wear jewelry, hair must be tied up and covered, long and dangling hair or dangling jewelry could get caught in wheels, blades, or nips of machines and trap, severely wound and kill the person.
  • Untrained work/poor knowledge of how to operate the machine is another critical risk factor.
  • Using the wrong Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while working with the machine and wearing an ill-fitted PPE. PPEs should fit and not have loose parts that can get trapped and pulled in


Moving parts of machines in some cases are guarded to prevent contact with point of operation i.e., where the work/drilling/cutting/mixing/rolling… etc. is being carried out or have a bypass built on top e.g., conveyor belts. The accidents related are almost inevitable without utmost consciousness of the workers, appropriate guard system, safety signs, effective communication, and compliance.

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