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Mower accident at work sparks Connecticut OSHA investigation

A town golf course worker in Connecticut suffered a hand injury from a mower he was using while on the job. The Connecticut Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration-the state's equivalent to the federal OSHA-is now investigating alongside the Ridgefield Police.

The injured employee reportedly had been using the mower when he got off the machine to clear away some clippings from the front of it. When he reached down near the front, his glove caught in the blades and subsequently pulled his right hand in. The worker suffered injuries to his middle three fingers, requiring nearly 50 stitches and tendon repair. He is recovering and attending physical therapy now, but his accident at work is still being assessed.

Generally, when an individual exits the mower with the blades still engaged, a safety switch should automatically shut down the mower. The investigation thus far has revealed that the wires connecting the switch were deliberately cut, causing a safety hazard to any individual using the machine. While the reason for disabling the equipment was most likely convenience rather than malicious intent, no such tampering should have occurred.

OSHA has established a protocol for matters relating to workplace safety to protect employees from injuries. Employers that violate OSHA standards put themselves at risk of lawsuits if one of their employees suffers an injury. Employees have a right to a safe workplace and when an employee suffers an injury from an accident on the job, that individual may file a complaint with OSHA to determine if the employer violated health and safety standards.

Aside from filing an OSHA complaint, the injured employee may file a claim for workers' compensation to help cover some of the expenses involved with their injury. The workers' compensation system allows employees to receive monetary awards for work-related injuries without the hassle of litigating against an employer. Employees may be able to recover for related medical care, replacement income, or compensation for a permanent injury.

Employees deserve a safe working environment and the assurance of a secure income when they are employed. When a worker is injured on the job, like the individual in this instance, OSHA can help restore a safe workplace while workers' compensation covers the unexpected costs associated with such an injury.

Source: The Ridgefield Press, "After golf course mower injury state looks at safety equipment," Macklin K. Reid, July 4, 2014

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