Heavy Machinery Accident Lawyers
Employers are required to furnish a safe work environment for employees; this includes the provision of safe machinery and equipment for work. A safe machine is one that has a minimal risk of causing injuries or accidents to workers and includes the presence of appropriate safeguards.
Examples of unsafe machinery in the workplace include:
- Machinery with an exposed flywheel
- Equipment with an unguarded cutter, blade, pulley belt, or emery wheel
- Electrical machinery that is improperly insulated, has loose or exposed wires, or insufficient grounding
- Equipment with powered doors that lack warning alarms
- Derricks or cranes that are defective or poorly maintained
- Machinery with rotating or moving parts, including food slicers, meat grinders, wood chippers, etc.
- Preventing Accidents Relating to Unsafe Equipment
The operation of machinery that lacks effective safety devices or components can result in accidents leading to amputation, crushing injuries, or even death. It is obviously in the best interest of many to not only protect those who have been injured but also to prevent these from occurring.
Some tips for prevention include the following:
- Properly guard unsafe machinery so workers are discouraged from entering the work area;
- Effective safeguards that prevent workers from putting their hands into dangerous points of operation;
- Providing protective equipment to workers who are responsible for operating the machine;
- Repairing any malfunction or fault in a machine as soon as it is observed;
- Paying special attention to workers' safety during the operation, cleaning, and repair of the machinery;
- Restricting non-essential personnel from entry into work areas that contain pieces of unsafe machinery; and
- Proper procedures in place so machines have their power supply turned off during maintenance and cleaning.
Employers may not be able to avoid having potentially dangerous machinery, but they are required to install safety devices, train workers in the use of it, provide for a clear view of the work area, and post warning signs to maintain a safe environment. For example, having a large hydraulic press does not itself violate any safety standards, but the failure to provide guards to cover dangerous parts of the equipment can be a violation.
Heavy Machinery Accidents: Cranes, Forklifts & More
In a recent study, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor recorded over 4,000 fatal work injuries in a single year. The dangers of the industrial and construction workplaces continue to raise concerns from organizations like OSHA, aiming to protect our workers.
There are a variety of injuries that can occur from heavy machinery accidents, such as:
- Back Injuries
- Crushing Injuries
- Amputation Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Blunt Force Trauma
Many workers who suffer these types of injuries are unable to work for an extended period—in some cases, permanently. When employers fail to train machinery operators or regulate the functionality of equipment properly, it can result in serious consequences for workers.
Accidents Involving Cranes & Forklifts
Some of the most accident-prone machines include cranes and forklifts. These machines are often found in the workplace and can cause severe injuries to workers if used incorrectly. For example, if a crane is on an unstable platform, the operator and workers in the area can be in danger. Crane boom collapses, tip-overs, and load accidents make construction zones extremely hazardous. Similarly, forklifts can be the cause of serious accidents; for example, common accidents include forklift tip-overs, falling debris, or collisions with other employees.
The Most Hazardous Types of Machinery
Some machinery is especially dangerous for workers. As gears turn, blades cut, and presses compact items, each movement may carry thousands of pounds of force behind it. If a worker's uniform, gloves, or a body part is trapped in the mechanism, they could face serious and permanent damage, including death. Employers must ensure that all workplace equipment is safe and in good working order.
The most dangerous actions and motions performed by machines include:
- Power presses
- Press brakes
- Tubing benders
- Slitter machines
- Band saws
- Hydraulically or pneumatically powered shears
Staying Safe Around Dangerous Machines
Even seemingly insignificant pieces of a machine can lead to a serious disaster. For instance, an unsecured lever could catch on a worker's pocket and drag them under a dangerous mechanism. The inherent dangers of powerful machines make it essential for workers to be trained in all relevant operational and safety practices. The importance of vigilance should be stressed constantly.
Safety equipment can also play a key role in protecting workers from harm when handling dangerous machinery. Guards should be utilized on cutting devices such as band saws. Often these guards may be removed by employers causing workplace machines to become lethal.
Equipment to protect against machinery accidents includes:
- Face shields
- Steel-toed boots
- Barriers guarding around pinch points
- Machine cut-offs in the event of an emergency
Amputations are the most common injuries resulting from machinery accidents, which can leave workers with an overwhelming medical bill. The cost of hospital visits, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, and any needed prosthesis or other medical equipment may burden injured workers for years to come. If a settlement is offered for a severe injury like this, victims and their families may see it as a quick solution to their immediate financial burdens, but it is important to make sure that any amount received will fully cover the costs associated with an injury of this magnitude.
Heavy Machinery Accident FAQ
What are the most dangerous types of heavy equipment and machinery?
Any piece of equipment or machinery can be dangerous if it isn’t operated correctly, is improperly maintained, or is defective. Some of the most dangerous types of machinery include backhoes, loaders, forklifts, cherry pickers, farming equipment, cranes, excavators, dump trucks, industrial machines, trenchers, and warehouse machinery. The harm they cause is often catastrophic and can lead to the death of one or more innocent workers.
Getting to the bottom of these accidents to give workers and their families the answers and help they need is our top priority at Arnold & Itkin.
If I was injured by heavy machinery, is my employer responsible?
Your employer is not automatically responsible for your work-related injuries, but if they carry workers’ compensation insurance, your medical bills, and a portion of your lost wages should be covered. Fault is a non-issue in workers’ comp claims because this type of insurance automatically covers all work-related injuries without the need to prove negligence or wrongdoing. However, some Texas employers do not carry workers’ comp insurance. There are also situations where a third party (someone other than a co-worker or your employer) may have been responsible. In these situations, you may be able to seek compensation for medical care, lost income, and much more in civil court.
What causes heavy machinery accidents?
Accidents involving heavy machinery and equipment occur when safety standards are not followed to the letter, when the equipment itself is defective, or when it is operated by untrained or careless workers. OSHA enforces strict regulations for all types of heavy machinery in an attempt to protect workers from serious harm, but some companies are lax in educating workers and enforcing safety standards. They may fail to perform routine maintenance or delay in completing repairs or replacing aging parts to avoid the expense and lost production. Heavy machinery manufacturers may also be to blame if they design or manufacture equipment that is defective and does not perform as it should or offer workers sufficient protection from harm.
At Arnold & Itkin LLP, our team has handled the most complex litigation on behalf of our clients. Our firm has a deep understanding of personal injury law. We know the best ways in which we can help our clients to put their lives back on track once more. Don't waste another moment.
Give us a call today at (888) 493-1629 to speak with a member of our legal team.