BACKGROUND: Metal fabrication workers are at high risk for machine-related injury. Apart from amputations, data on factors contributing to this problem are generally absent. METHODS: Narrative text analysis was performed on workers' compensation claims in order to identify machine-related injuries and determine work tasks involved. Data were further evaluated on the basis of cost per claim, nature of injury, and part of body. RESULTS: From an initial set of 4,268 claims, 1,053 were classified as machine-related. Frequently identified tasks included machine operation (31%), workpiece handling (20%), setup/adjustment (15%), and removing chips (12%). Lacerations to finger(s), hand, or thumb comprised 38% of machine-related injuries; foreign body in the eye accounted for 20%. Amputations were relatively rare but had highest costs per claim (mean $21,059; median $11,998). CONCLUSIONS: Despite limitations, workers' compensation data were useful in characterizing machine-related injuries. Improving the quality of data collected by insurers would enhance occupational injury surveillance and prevention efforts. Am. J. Ind. Med. 59:656-664, 2016. (c) 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.