Defective work equipment is responsible for many on-the-job injuries that range from minor cuts and abrasions to more serious injuries including broken bones, amputations, head trauma and even death. Liability for damages depends on the cause of the defect and whether the employer knew, or should have known that the equipment was unsafe.
Equipment Safety Regulations
Under OSHA regulations, employers have a legal duty to provide a safe work environment that protects workers from workplace injuries. OSHA’s workplace safety regulations include all machinery and equipment used on the job. OSHA employs thousands of specialized technicians around the country who are hired to inspect workplace machinery and equipment for safe operations. Technicians regularly make unannounced visits to U.S. workplaces to inspect machinery and equipment, talk with workers who use the equipment, and communicate safety concerns to employers.
While most employers follow important safety guidelines for workplace equipment inspections and maintenance, those who neglect them put workers at significant risks for serious injuries, and even death. Malfunctions in large, heavy equipment such as cranes, forklifts, conveyor belts, stapling machines, grinders and many others can lead to severe personal injuries including broken bones, crushed extremities, amputations, skull fractures, and brain injuries. Because of the size and weight of many workplace machines and large pieces of equipment, workers can be killed when they don’t operate safely.
Most on-the-job injuries are covered by employers under workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation claims for injuries can include damages for lost wages, medical expenses, and emotional distress, but most workers’ comp claims do not pay punitive damages to punish an employer for poor safety controls or dangerous workplace conditions.
When a worker is injured in the workplace by defective machinery or equipment that failed to work properly, a product liability action can be filed with a work injury lawyer. Manufacturers of unsafe machines or equipment can be held liable for workplace injuries if faulty design or manufacturing defects caused the injury. If an employer displays gross negligence or a wanton disregard for workplace safety, the injured employee can file a separate third-party claim against the employer. If there is proof that an employer ignored OSHA safety violation warnings, citations, and fines, this can prove intentional negligence and/or disregard for workplace safety.