A lathe operator may have a workers compensation injury from a single accident or injury, or he or she may have a bad back condition from repetitive lathe operating job duties over time. The lathe operator sets up, operates and tends the lathe, a machine for shaping wood, metal, or other material by means of a rotating drive that turns the piece on an axis while being worked on against changeable cutting tools.

Manual lathes involve more physical exertion than CNC run machines, but still a lathe operator may have to lift wood, metal or plastic stock or workpieces manually or using hoists, and position and secure them in machines, using fasteners and hand tools. He or she may also mount materials or work pieces onto production equipment. Operators may have to lift or position materials or work pieces using cranes or other lifting equipment.

Typical job duties include positioning, securing, and aligning cutting tools in tool holders on machines, using hand tools, and verify their positions with measuring instruments.

May also have to mount attachments or tools onto production equipment. Other physical duties include installing holding fixtures, cams, gears, and stops to control stock and tool movement, using hand tools, power tools, and measuring instruments. Mounting attachments or tools onto production equipment. Installing mechanical components in production equipment. Moving tool holders manually or by turning hand wheels, or engaging automatic feeding mechanisms to feed tools to and along work pieces. Turning valve handles to direct the flow of coolant onto work areas or to coat disks with spinning compounds, adjusting equipment controls. Mounting attachments, such as relieving or tracing attachments, performing operations such as duplicating contours of templates or trimming work pieces. Mounting attachments or tools onto production equipment.

There are non physical aspects of the job, reading blueprints, computing dimensions and machine settings, using knowledge of metal properties and shop mathematics, and calculating dimensions of work pieces, products, or equipment.

Generally a lathe operator must have the ability to lift up to 50 pounds following safe lifting techniques and use lifting equipment for products over 50 pounds. In addition, he or she must have the ability to repetitively bend, twist and turn at the waist as necessary for the job at hand. Permanent work restrictions may cost a lathe operator their ability to work in which case we get the best workers compensation settlement we can for disability benefits, loss of earing capacity and/or retraining benefits.

McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin has provided legal representation to lathe operators for over 30 years, supporting organized labor including IAM District 10, Lodge 66, Lodge 34 and Lodge 78 and Lodge local 510.