Working with industrial machinery or heavy equipment in the construction or manufacturing industry can come with significant hazards to personal health and safety. You may know that dangerous industrial machinery could cause debilitating or fatal injuries. What you may not realize is that a negligent employer, careless coworker, or manufacturer could be liable for your damages. Speak to a mechanical injury lawyer at the Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. in the Dallas area about your case today. We provide free consultations. Call (855) 655-HURT.
What Is an Industrial Accident?
An industrial accident occurs in a workplace setting in an industry that depends on heavy machinery and related processes. A personal injury to an employee in construction, manufacturing, assembly, oil and gas, mining, or processing from a piece of dangerous or defective equipment is an industrial accident in the eyes of officials. Industrial accidents can arise due to defective or malfunctioning equipment, poorly maintained machinery, or lack of proper employee training.
- Heavy equipment accident
- Forklift accident
- Transportation accident
- Chemical burns
- Crane accidents
- Commercial fires
- Pollution or acid rain
Any incident that results in employee injury or death may constitute an industrial accident in Texas. Industrial accidents are often not accidents at all. They are preventable tragedies that arise because of someone else’s negligence.
Factors in Industrial Machinery Accidents
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has rules in place to help prevent worksite accidents and employee injuries. OSHA has about 2,100 inspectors in charge of visiting worksites throughout the U.S. to enforce federal rules and regulations. Some of the most commonly violated standards include fall protection, hazard communication, and scaffolding construction. In 2017, 5,147 workers died on the job in the U.S. Many different factors can contribute to industrial machinery accidents, injuries, and deaths, including violated OSHA rules.
- Poor equipment maintenance. Poor machinery or property maintenance could lead to safety hazards such as inaccessible or faulty shutoff switches, obstructed lines of sight, missing machine safety guards, or another non-compliance with OSHA. It is every employer’s legal duty to properly inspect, repair, and maintain all equipment and machinery at the worksite. Negligent machinery maintenance could lead to malfunctions or breakdowns that place workers in harm’s way.
- Failure to train or supervise. It is also the employer’s duty to properly train all industrial workers to safely and efficiently operate heavy machinery. Lack of training could make it impossible for an employee to know how to avoid a deadly situation. Lack of proper supervision from a manager could also contribute to worker injuries or deaths. With no supervisor available to catch safety hazards or react to emergency situations, a worker may needlessly suffer a serious injury.
- Careless employers. OSHA has many rules regarding how to control the potential hazards involved with machinery, machine guarding, falls, power tools, transportation, hazardous energy, and more. Employers in industrial industries must know and obey OSHA’s related safety guidelines. Failure to adhere to OSHA’s rules could create an unnecessarily dangerous work environment for employees. If a careless employer caused your injuries, you could have a case against the company.
- Equipment defects. Sometimes an employer does everything possible to prepare workers and maintain equipment, but serious injuries happen anyway. These cases may involve a defective piece of machinery. Design, manufacturing, or marketing defects could make industrial machinery impossible to use without unreasonable risk of harm. Product manufacturers or distributors may be liable for any worker injuries defective products cause.
Recognizing the factors involved in your recent industrial machinery accident is the first step toward obtaining fair compensation for your damages. Who or what caused your accident will determine the defendant and type of accident case. If your employer caused your injuries, for example, you may want to file a personal injury claim instead of settling for workers’ compensation. If a defective piece of machinery was the issue, you may have a product liability claim. A lawyer can help you understand your case type.
Who Is Liable in Industrial Machinery Accidents?
Liability refers to someone’s legal responsibility for another person’s injuries and related damages. One person may be liable for an industrial machinery accident if he or she individually contributed to the tragedy through an act of negligence or intent to harm. Otherwise, a company or another entity may bear responsibility. The party you believe is accountable for causing your recent accident will become the defendant in an insurance claim. A lawyer from our firm can investigate your recent accident and help you identify the liable party or parties.
- An employer. Employers in Dallas or Fort Worth could be responsible for industrial machinery accidents if they reasonably should have done more to prevent them. If a reasonable and prudent employer or supervisor would have done something differently to prevent the worker injury, the courts may find the employer liable for damages. Common examples of employer negligence include poor training, lack of protective equipment, failure to maintain machinery, and failure to maintain a safe workplace.
- A coworker. If a coworker caused or contributed to your injury, your employer will be accountable through the rule of vicarious liability. Vicarious liability places legal responsibility for employees’ actions on an employer. For example, if a coworker negligently failed to construct a safe scaffold, causing a loved one to fatally fall into a piece of machinery, the employer would be vicariously liable for the wrongful death. An employer would only not be vicariously liable if the coworker was off the clock at the time of the accident.
- A product manufacturer. The manufacturer of the piece of heavy machinery could be responsible for an injured person’s damages if the equipment contained a defect that caused the accident. A defect such as faulty wiring, a chemical leak, a weak machinery guard, or lack of proper warning labels could result in manufacturer liability. An inspection of the machine can identify defects that may have caused or contributed to the incident.
Before you settle your workplace injury case through workers’ compensation, speak to a lawyer about potential employer liability. A personal injury claim against your employer may result in greater compensation than workers’ comp; however, you cannot file a claim against your employer if you have already accepted a workers’ compensation settlement. If a third party caused your industrial machinery accident, you may qualify for recovery through both workers’ comp and an injury lawsuit.
The Cost of Industrial Machinery Accidents
Industrial machinery accidents are extremely costly for U.S. employers. Insurance studies show that in 2018, U.S. insurance companies spent nearly $60 billion in direct workers’ compensation costs. This breaks down into businesses spending more than $1 billion per week in workplace injury costs. The indirect costs can be even greater. Lost employee productivity and morale can cost additional billions for employers.
The expenses of an industrial machinery accident can trickle down through the company. The expenses involved in an industrial machinery accident could include medical expenses, lost worker wages, lost productivity from the machine being down, the costs of machinery repairs or replacement, training new workers, paying fines for OSHA violations, and increased insurance premiums. The company could also suffer damage to its reputation after a serious workplace injury or death. The actual total cost of an industrial machinery accident could be four to ten times the amount of visible costs, according to insurance companies.
Common Types of Injuries
Industrial machinery accidents often cause catastrophic, disabling, and fatal personal injuries. The nature of these accidents makes them especially harmful to workers involved. Industrial machines may not be dangerous until someone else’s negligence creates an unsafe situation. A worker could suffer virtually any type of injury in a machinery accident, but some are more common than others.
- Crushed bones
- Traumatic amputations
- Head and brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Chemical, electrical, and thermal burns
- Explosion-related eye or ear injuries
- Severe lacerations
- Wrongful death
Industrial machinery accidents could cause injuries that last a lifetime. Affected workers may suffer permanent scarring, disfigurement, or physical or cognitive disabilities. They may never be able to return to their jobs. They may not survive at all. No matter what types of injuries you or a loved one suffered in a Dallas/Fort Worth workplace accident, we can help. Call the Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. to discuss your injuries and the potential for a civil lawsuit in Texas.
What Types of Machines Cause the Most Injuries?
In our years representing injured workers in Texas, we have come to recognize the pieces of industrial machinery most likely to cause serious or fatal personal injuries. Although any tool at work could be dangerous under the wrong circumstances, certain equipment appears in workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits more often than others.
- Conveyor belts
- Drill presses
- Electrical components
- Metalworking machinery
- Power tools
- Punching machines
If your workplace involves any of these pieces of machinery, you could be at risk of an industrial accident. It is up to your employer to adhere to OSHA’s laws regarding the upkeep and safety of these machines. Guardrails, for example, must properly eliminate or control potential injury hazards. OSHA provides many resources on machine guarding for employers. Failure to adhere to these standards, resulting in a serious accident, is negligence.
Most Common Industries
Heavy equipment, metal machinery, lots of moving parts, electrical components, hazardous chemicals, and large machines put workers in harm’s way daily in certain industries. If you work in the transport, oil and gas, construction, manufacturing, utilities, forestry, or agriculture industries in Dallas/Fort Worth, you could be at a higher risk of suffering an industrial machinery accident. Whether you work for a local construction company or on an offshore oil rig, our lawyers can help after a major accident.
Contact Our Lawyers Today
If you suspect someone’s negligence caused or contributed to your recent workplace injury or the death of a loved one, contact an attorney at our law office as soon as possible. Our Dallas area personal injury attorneys can help you choose the best outlet for recovery available. Call (855) 655-HURT or contact us online today for a free case review.