Employers are increasingly using mechanical equipment and tools to increase productivity. While this can reduce the amount of manual labor some workers must perform and reduce the types of injuries workers once suffered, mechanical equipment and tools can be dangerous. Workers can suffer debilitating injuries or deaths when machinery and smaller tools fail or malfunction.
Defective Machinery, Equipment, and Tools That Cause Workplace Accidents
Workers in many professions must use machinery, equipment, and tools to do their jobs. According to a news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, contact with equipment and objects was one of the six leading causes of workers’ deaths, and being struck by or caught between machinery and equipment is one of the “fatal four” causes of construction worker deaths. Large equipment that can malfunction and lead to workers’ injuries include:
- Blowers and gears
- Conveyor belts
- Hydraulic hoses
- Food and printing presses
- Factory machines
- Aluminum bus bars
- Electric welders
Many workers in construction, roofing, home repair, and other industries use smaller tools and equipment that can also cause workers to suffer serious injuries or deaths. Some of these tools include:
- Nail guns
- Table saws
- Belt sanders
Leading Reasons for Equipment, Machinery, and Tool Failures
Mechanical failure of equipment, machinery, and tools can involve many problems, such as misalignment of parts, power surge overloads, broken gear sets, chips or breaks of parts, and oil contamination. In some cases, the breakdown of a part can cause further damage to the machinery and lead to its malfunction and a worker being injured. There are many reasons why equipment fails and causes accidents including:
- Wear and tear. Parts in machinery and tools will wear down over time due to their constant use. At some point, they must be replaced due to wear and tear. When employers fail to replace them due to the cost, they will malfunction—sometimes repeatedly if only minor repairs are done.
- Defective design or manufacture. In some cases, the machinery, equipment, or tools were designed or manufactured improperly. If the defect is serious enough, it can cause a catastrophic workplace accident if the machinery malfunctions or breaks down.
- Lack of training. Workers must be trained in the safe use of heavy equipment, like forklifts, bulldozers, and other heavy machinery and equipment, before using them on the job. Even drills, power saws, and other power tools can be extremely dangerous if workers use them without training in their safe use. Many tragic accidents occur when employers do not take their workers’ safety seriously and do not invest the time to properly train their employees.
- Improper maintenance. Employers have a duty to inspect, repair, and replace machinery, equipment, and tools on a regular basis. Unfortunately, many employers do not do this, which can result in a tragic workplace accident.
- Operator error. Many accidents occur when operators of equipment and machinery make errors or engage in negligent actions. This can lead to their own injuries or the injuries of others, such as when a heavy machine operator hits a nearby worker.
- Third-party negligence. In some cases, a third party, such as a sub-contractor or supplier, may have provided the machinery, operated it, or maintained it and may have caused an accident due to negligence. For example, a sub-contractor’s employee could cause an accident using a forklift or crane on a construction site that leads to other workers’ injuries.
Compensation You May Be Entitled to If You Suffer an Injury Caused by Equipment Failure
You could suffer traumatic brain injury, internal organ damage, amputation, paralysis, and many more long-term injuries that cause chronic pain and limitations in your ability to work or perform your day-to-day activities in a machinery failure accident. Here are possible sources of compensation for your injuries:
- Workers’ compensation. In New Jersey, you could be entitled to workers compensation benefits from your employer to pay your medical bills and wages if your injuries were caused by a workplace accident. This is a no-fault system so you can receive benefits even if you were the cause of your accident.
- Products liability claim. In addition to a workers’ comp claim, you may also have a products liability claim against the manufacturer if a defect in the design or assembly of a machinery part led to your accident.
- Third-party claim. If a third-party’s negligence caused your accident, you can file a separate personal injury claim against this party as well as filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Contact New Jersey Workers' Compensation Attorney Manfred Ricciardelli
Did you suffer a workplace injury due to the mechanical failure of machinery, equipment, or tools? Let me help you fight for the workers’ compensation benefits and other compensation you may deserve. Call my office today to schedule your free consultation.