Responsibility of Machine Manufacturers and Employers to Protect Workers from Unsafe Conditions
February 28, 2017
Employers and machine manufacturers have many legal responsibilities when it comes to protecting workers from defective or unsafe machinery in the workplace. In fact, it is the responsibility of an employer to provide a reasonably safe and healthful work environment. Similarly, manufacturers have a legal responsibility to workers, and that is to produce a properly made product that comes equipped with appropriate warnings and alerts. The recent death of a seventeen-year-old worker in Wisconsin highlights the serious safety failures that all too often can occur, causing damaging, sometimes lethal consequences.
A machine pinned the teen, causing debilitating physical injuries, and consequently caused his death. After surviving the initial event, he died in the hospital just a few days later. The Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that the employer, a metal fabrication company, had failed to follow many health and safety standards and that the teen’s death was in fact preventable. With proper training and safety procedures in place, the teen may not have lost his life.
In respect to safety standards, the metal fabrication company failed to implement lockout procedures on the machine. There was also no proper employee training in place. The machine lowering onto him as he worked beneath it caused the teen’s death; the employer installing a lockout process could have prevented an event like this from happening, and a life would have been protected.
Lockout processes are considered as machine “safeguards”. Manufacturers should review all safeguards to make sure that they are sufficient for protecting their consumers. The purpose of a machine safeguard is to provide a barrier or sign to prevent unintentional access to a potential hazard. The responsibility of safety can fall on both the manufacturer and the employer in instances like this. For example, although the machine may have been made properly if the employer failed to establish a safe area around it, they are liable. At other times, the machine itself is defective if made without proper safety features.
In the case of the seventeen-year-old worker who lost his life, leaving behind a grieving family, OSHA issued multiple citations. Those citations, however, are not all encompassing. Although they certainly help to force an employer to be held accountable for its lethal mistakes, additional legal recourse is available. It needs to be clear to employers and machine manufacturers alike that they need to begin protecting their employees and consumers more sufficiently.
All too often, workers are injured or killed at their jobsites. No one should have to go to work wondering whether or not they will be able to make it home to their family that day. Nearly 5,000 workers lose their lives annually from lethal work injuries, often due to improper employer safety measures or defective machinery. In private industries alone, there are nearly 3 million non-lethal injuries reported yearly.
If you work in an unsafe workplace or around unguarded machinery, you should consider contacting a representative of OSHA, the USCPSC or an attorney at Galfand Berger with your questions or concerns, especially if an injury or death has occurred.
Philadelphia Product Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Victims of Defective Machinery
The Philadelphia products liability attorneys at Galfand Berger are experienced in representing victims of serious injury or death due to defective, faulty machinery. We can provide excellent representation to you or your loved ones. We serve clients throughout Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem as well as in New Jersey. We will be happy to answer any questions and review your case for free. Please call us at 1-800-222-8792 to schedule an appointment, or complete our contact form. There is no fee unless we recover money for you.