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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:

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:

  • Bending
  • Power presses
  • Press brakes
  • Tubing benders
  • Slitter machines
  • Cutting
  • Band saws
  • Punching
  • Blanking
  • Drawing
  • Stamping
  • Reciprocating
  • Rotating
  • Shearing
  • Hydraulically or pneumatically powered shears
  • Transversing

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:

  • Gloves
  • Hardhats
  • 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 at work, is my employer automatically 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 to a member of our legal team.

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Check Out Our Victories

  • $171Million One of the Largest Confidential Settlements in History Arnold & Itkin worked over the course of several years to represent clients in a case that many other law firms turned down. In the end, we were able to obtain a record-setting confidential settlement of $171 million.
  • $97Million Massive Settlement Secured for Refinery Workers Arnold & Itkin is proud to share that after months of preparation for trial, our firm was able to secure a huge settlement for clients who were injured in a refinery fire. Find out more now.
  • $44Million The Largest Verdict Ever Won for an Amputee Victim Arnold & Itkin represented a construction superintendent who required a leg amputation after a crane collapse. At the time of the collapse, our client had been standing behind a safety fence 100 feet away when a fallen piece of crane equipment pinned him down. Our firm got him the largest award ever given in a case involving loss of limb, including $8.5 million in punitive damages.
  • $39.7Million Record Verdict Won for Victim of Industrial Accident Attorneys Kyle Findley and Adam Lewis obtained a record $39.744 million verdict on behalf of a client who was burned in a severe dust fire and explosion at a plywood plant in Corrigan, TX.
  • $18.5Million Second Verdict Won for 4 Victims of Geismar Explosion In our second trial on behalf of victims of the 2013 plant explosion in Geismar, LA, Arnold & Itkin won a massive verdict for 4 workers and their families. The verdict will go toward providing the extensive care they have required in the years since the explosion as well as the care they will need for the rest of their lives. This was the second of 2 massive verdicts Arnold & Itkin won against Williams Companies, Inc.
  • $15.5Million Massive Verdict Won for Geismar Explosion Victims Arnold & Itkin won a landmark verdict against Williams Companies, Inc. and child company Williams Olefins LLC for their part in the 2013 explosion that killed 2 workers and injured over 100 more. Williams Companies tried to blame the incident on their limited liability shell company, but the jury saw through the defense. They awarded 95% of the blame to Williams Companies, Inc. and gave our clients the money they needed for medical care.
  • $13.7Million Massive Settlement Won Only Months After Injury Arnold & Itkin represented a plant worker who was seriously injured in an accident on the job. Plant injuries are often complex, taking years to fully investigate and litigate. Fortunately, our firm’s work was able to secure a multi-million dollar settlement mere months after the injury took place. Now our client’s medical expenses and other needs are taken care of for the rest of his life.
  • $12Million Injured Worker Received Settlement for Burn Injuries Our industrial injury lawyers have recently recovered $12 million on behalf of a plant worker who suffered burns when a safety valve failed at the refinery where he was employed. His settlement will go toward providing him with extensive and long-term medical care. His employer chose to settle his case two weeks before trial was set to begin.
  • $11.7Million Settlement Won for Plant Worker Injured During Turnaround Attorneys Kurt Arnold and Jason Itkin successfully recovered $11.75 million on behalf of a man who was injured while working a turnaround at an industrial plant. He was injured because he and his team were not informed of the plant’s dangers, and his family turned to Arnold & Itkin shortly afterward. Our team was able to get him money for his present and future medical expenses less than a year after he was injured.
  • $11.6Million Verdict Secured for a Worker Partially Blinded on the Job Our client was only offered $300,000 by the defendant for his near-total loss of sight in one eye, but the jury only deliberated for less than 2 days before they found the defendant guilty of defective equipment design. They gave our client an award of $11.6 million.
  • $4.97Million Settlement Reached for Orthopaedic Injury Victim Our team worked to represent a client who was severely injured while working at a chemical plant. He was performing construction and maintenance work at the time of the incident. In the end, our firm was successful in settling the case for $4.97 million.
  • $4.8Million Verdict Won for Bereaved Daughter Kurt Arnold recovered $4.8 million for a client whose father was killed after suffering a severe head injury in Port Arthur, Texas. Winning justice for grieving clients is a primary reason we became lawyers, and it's our honor to help clients like this one receive help.
  • $4Million Victim of Plant Explosion Received Millions in Settlement Arnold & Itkin attorneys represented a Mississippi man who was severely injured in a Texas refinery plant explosion. Cases like these require a high level of experience and investigative resources due to the myriad factors involved in a plant explosion. Our attorneys are proud to have helped our client receive a settlement of $4,000,000.
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