According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are more than 2.8 million reported workplace injuries per year.
While many of these injuries happen due to falls or other common workplace hazards, many occur because of faulty equipment.
In 2020, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) listed unsafe machinery as one of the top 10 reported workplace safety violations.
Even though most employers follow OSHA’s regulations for inspecting and maintaining machinery, there are many who disregard the safety of their workers.
Even minor work equipment malfunctions can put workers at risk. You may be wondering, “What is the most common injury caused by working with machines unsafely? Who is liable if I get injured using work equipment?”
When faulty machinery causes an injury, you may be able to seek compensation from whoever is responsible.
However, it may be difficult to determine who is at fault. At The Zimmerman Law Firm, we have decades of experience representing clients injured on the job due to the negligence of another.
What Counts as Faulty Equipment?
Faulty equipment is any machine, either mechanical or electric, that is too unsafe to use. There are several things that may cause a faulty machine, including manufacturing defects, design defects, and improper maintenance.
A manufacturing defect is an error in the creation of the machine that occurs during production or assembly.
Typically, this defect causes the machine to become dangerous to use since it doesn’t meet the intended design specifications.
A design defect occurs when a machine is too dangerous to use, even for its intended purpose. The faults often originate from the overall blueprints of the design rather than the manufacturing process.
Not all machinery defects are caused by defective parts or manufacturing errors.
Some machinery injuries happen due to an employer improperly maintaining their equipment. OSHA has published requirements for machinery and machine guarding listed in their guidelines.
According to standard number 1910.212, machines with the following parts require point of operation guarding to prevent injury:
- Guillotine cutters,
- Power presses,
- Milling machines,
- Power saws,
- Portable power tools, and
- Forming rolls.
In addition to these guidelines, OSHA states that stationary machinery must be securely anchored so that it doesn’t move. Machines that do not meet these standards are unnecessarily dangerous to operate.
What Is the Most Common Injury Caused by Working with Machines Unsafely?
The most common injury caused by using a machine unsafely is laceration. However, there are other injuries that can occur depending on the type of machinery.
- Broken bones,
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI),
- Spinal cord injuries,
- Eye injuries, and
Machine injuries tend to be severe and life-altering. For this reason, workers’ compensation is often not enough to cover all the damages associated with the injury.
Employer vs. Manufacturer Liability
Proving liability for a workplace injury involving machinery can be difficult depending on the circumstances.
If the machine is faulty because of a manufacturing or design defect, it may be easier to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer.
However, if the machine malfunctions because of poor maintenance by your employer, you will likely be limited to pursuing a workers’ compensation claim except in very limited circumstances.
Bringing a Case Against Your Employer
In Texas, you can only sue your employer for negligence if they do not carry workers’ compensation insurance or if they intentionally harm you.
However, if your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, you can file a claim for your injuries. Depending on your unique situation, this could include lost wages, rehabilitation, medical travel expenses, and more.
Bringing a Case Against the Manufacturer
Proving the liability of a manufacturer is a little different. In many cases, it’s possible to bring a product liability claim against a manufacturer for a defective machine.
These defects can be caused by the manufacturer:
- Installing the machine incorrectly;
- Providing poor operation instructions;
- Designing the machine with safety flaws; or
- Building the machine using defective parts.
For example, let’s say you are taking inventory in a walk-in freezer.
When you try to exit the freezer, the door locks from the inside, causing you to suffer frostbite injuries. In this case, you may be able to sue the manufacturer for a defective door lock.
Injured on the Job? We Can Help
Workplace injuries can be devastating for workers and their families, especially when caused by faulty work equipment.
The impact of the injury is usually life-long, requiring constant medical care or job changes. At The Zimmerman Law Firm, our work injury attorneys are dedicated to helping you maximize your recovery.
We will help manage every aspect of your case from your workers’ compensation claim to your product liability lawsuit.