Industrial Machine Accidents Do Not Happen by Chance
August 2, 2021
Manufacturers of industrial machines and employers whose workers operate heavy machinery and equipment are legally responsible for worker safety. Understanding the root causes of industrial accidents can help prevent the many thousands of serious and fatal injuries that continue to happen.
Accidents do not just happen, there is always a cause. Research shows that the number one cause of industrial machine accidents is unsafe working conditions. Unsafe working conditions include but are not limited to the following:
- Improperly guarded machines and inadequate safety devices
- Defective equipment
- Hazardous configurations of machines or equipment layout
- Unsafe procedures in or around the equipment
- Unsafe storage of materials
- Lack of proper lighting
Workers typically have little control over these causal factors. It is the responsibility of employers and manufacturers to address and remediate unsafe working conditions.
Why are Workers Often Blamed for Their Injuries?
Workers are often blamed for their own injuries because human factors do come into play in some workplace accidents. Additionally, evening and night-shift workers appear to be more accident-prone because they are tired. New workers may appear to be more careless. However, a closer look at human factors reveals that workplace conditions heavily influence accident rates. Factors include the following:
- Most new workers have received little or no safety training compared to experienced workers.
- New workers are often hired for evening and night shifts.
- New workers are often under more stress to perform so they can be promoted to day shift.
- The way in which management motivates employees affects the rate and frequency of accidents.
- Workers who feel their jobs are threatened have more accidents than those who do not.
Regardless of the effect of human factors on the rate of industrial machine accidents, research continues to show that machine factors, such as defective equipment or the lack of guards and other safety features, result in higher rates of accidents that are serious or fatal. These types of accidents are preventable.
How can Employers Prevent Industrial Machine Accidents?
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are legally responsible for providing safe workplaces for employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets and enforces standards to ensure safe working conditions. Employers can prevent industrial machine accidents by doing the following:
- Adhere to all applicable OSHA standards.
- Inspect and maintain equipment regularly.
- Eliminate and control exposure to hazards.
- Provide personal protective equipment.
- Conduct regular safety training and meetings.
- Demonstrate safety by example.
The OSHA maintains a publicly accessible database of inspections and violations by establishment, which can allow employees to identify any known hazards in their workplace. Employees also have the ability to file a confidential complaint with the OSHA if they see unsafe conditions where they work.
Can Third Parties be Held Responsible for Industrial Machine Accidents?
Third parties may be held responsible for industrial machine accidents. These third parties include but are not limited to the following:
- Manufacturers of industrial machines
- Sellers, distributors, or resellers of industrial machines
- Contractors and subcontractors who install machinery
Pennsylvania law requires designers, manufacturers, and sellers of industrial machines to provide equipment that is safe to use. This includes providing adequate safety devices when the equipment is sold, as well as installation manuals and warnings about safe operation and use. Equipment should have no defects in manufacturing or design. Equipment with moving parts should include fixed or interlocked guards. Conveyor belts and other moving equipment should have emergency stop features.
Machine safeguard technology is well studied and has been available for more than a century. Unfortunately, manufacturers continue to design and sell machines that lack available safeguards. If a machine is sold in unsafe condition due to either a design or manufacture defect and it causes an accident, the injured individual or surviving family members have the right to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer, supplier, or the machine distributor.
What Types of Injuries are Caused by Industrial Machine Accidents?
Injuries caused by industrial machine accidents include but are not limited to the following:
- Hand injuries
- Closed head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Many of these injuries require repeated hospitalization and surgeries as well as treatment for chronic pain and depression. This leads to mounting medical bills, which may be compounded by the loss of present and future income. When injuries are fatal, surviving family members may be left with huge debts as well as loss of companionship.
Workers’ Compensation provides benefits to pay for medical expenses and partial reimbursement for lost wages. However, in many cases, manufacturers and other third parties are also legally responsible for damages. Seeking the help of an experience lawyer is the best way for an injured worker to ensure that they are protected.
Why Contact Galfand Berger LLP After an Industrial Machine Accident?
There are many reasons to contact Galfand Berger LLP after an industrial machine accident, including the following:
- The firm has handled thousands of products liability cases involving industrial machine accidents.
- More than 98 percent of their cases are wins.
- The legal team holds manufacturers accountable for their unsafe products.
The following is one example of a settlement Galfand Berger LLP has obtained on behalf of individuals injured in industrial accidents:
- $10.65 million settlement for a fatally burned worker and injured coworker. Both workers were employed at an automotive battery plant. The maintenance worker climbed up the side of a 6,000-gallon tank of sulfuric acid and fell, breaking a faulty PVC pipe valve, which sprayed acid on the worker as well as their coworker who came to aid him. The maintenance worker later died from complications resulting from his injuries. Ultimately, the family of the burned worker obtained a settlement of $6,603,000, and the injured coworker received $4,047,000.
Many injured workers hesitate to contact a lawyer because they think the accident is not their fault. They may not know that they have the right to file a lawsuit.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Obtain Results for Clients Injured in Industrial Machine Accidents
Industrial machine accidents do not happen by chance. All too often, accidents are the result of someone else’s negligent behavior. Accident victims have the legal right to hold negligent parties accountable and seek damages. The Philadelphia products liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP have a long, respected track record of obtaining positive results for workers injured in industrial machine accidents. If you or someone you know was harmed in a industrial machine accident, call 800-222-USWA (8792) or complete an online form for a free consultation and to find out more about the legal options. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.