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Workplace Injuries Caused By Defective Equipment

When equipment fails, NYC workers can be seriously hurt

In modern workplaces, workers rely heavily on different types of equipment to perform their tasks efficiently and safely. From heavy machinery and power tools to ladders and safety harnesses, this equipment is a vital part of daily operations across various industries. However, when this equipment is defective, the consequences can be severe.

How defective equipment accidents at work happen

Defective equipment accidents occur in various settings, from construction sites and manufacturing plants to offices and retail environments. They often involve essential tools and machinery that can pose significant risks to workers if they are unsafe to use.

Defective Machinery

Machinery is an important part of many industrial operations, but the consequences can be severe when it is defective. Defects in machinery often happen because of improper maintenance, age-related wear and tear, or manufacturing flaws. For example, a conveyor belt with frayed edges can snag clothing or body parts, pulling a worker into the machinery. Similarly, failure of safety guards on machines like press brakes or power saws can result in crush injuries or amputations. Regular inspections, timely maintenance, and following manufacturers’ guidelines are critical to prevent such hazards and ensure machinery safety.

Defective Ladders

Ladders are used in numerous work environments and are subject to a variety of stresses that can lead to defects. Common ladder defects include broken or weak rungs, unstable footing, or compromised locking mechanisms. Such defects may not be immediately obvious but can lead to disastrous falls when the ladder is in use. A ladder collapsing under a worker can cause falls from significant heights, leading to fractures, head injuries, or worse. Ensuring that all ladders are inspected regularly and replaced or repaired at the first sign of wear or damage is essential for safeguarding workers.

Defective Power Tools

Power tools such as drills, saws, and pneumatic hammers are staples in construction and manufacturing but are also frequent sources of workplace injuries when defective. Common issues with power tools include faulty safety switches, worn-out blades or bits, and damaged electrical cords. These defects can cause unexpected behaviors like sudden starts or stops, kickbacks, or electrocution risks. Workers should be trained to inspect their tools before each use and report any signs of wear or malfunction immediately. In addition, using only tools that meet industry safety standards can further reduce the risk of accidents.

Worn or Defective Rope/Cable

The integrity of ropes and cables is crucial in industries where lifting and rigging are common, such as construction and maritime. Wear and tear, as well as exposure to elements like moisture or chemicals, can weaken these materials over time. A worn or defective rope or cable can snap under load, leading to catastrophic drops and potential injuries or fatalities to workers below. Regular stress tests, adherence to weight limits, and immediate replacement of any cable or rope showing signs of distress are necessary to prevent such failures.

Types of injuries caused by defective equipment

Defective equipment in the workplace can lead to a range of serious injuries, some of which can have long-term or permanent effects on workers.

Injuries from Defective Machinery

  • Crush Injuries: When safety guards on machinery fail or when machinery malfunctions, workers can suffer crush injuries to hands, fingers, or limbs.
  • Amputations: Sharp, unguarded parts of machinery can sever limbs or digits.
  • Lacerations and Punctures: Exposed sharp edges or broken parts can cause deep cuts or puncture wounds.
  • Burns: Electrical malfunctions or overheating machinery can cause burns.
  • Fractures: Workers may suffer broken bones if caught in or struck by malfunctioning machinery.

Injuries from Defective Ladders

Fall injuries can range from minor bruises to severe injuries, such as:

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs): Caused by hits to the head during a fall.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: Which may lead to paralysis depending on the severity and location of the injury.
  • Fractures: Commonly in the wrists, arms, legs, or hips.
  • Sprains and Strains: From trying to catch oneself or from awkward landings.

Injuries from Defective Power Tools

  • Lacerations: Improperly functioning saws, drills, or other cutting tools can cause severe cuts.
  • Eye Injuries: Flying debris can cause eye injuries, potentially leading to vision loss.
  • Electrocutions: Faulty wiring or insulation can lead to electric shocks or electrocution.
  • Burns: From sparks or overheating equipment.
  • Hearing Loss: From loud, defective equipment without proper noise control.

Injuries from Worn or Defective Rope/Cable

  • Fall Injuries: If a rope or cable used for securing or lifting breaks, it can lead to falls from heights.
  • Impact Injuries: Falling objects secured by faulty ropes or cables can strike workers below.
  • Crush Injuries: Workers may be crushed by heavy loads falling from broken lifting apparatus.
  • Lacerations or Amputations: Snapping cables can whip back, cutting or severing limbs.

Filing a worker’s compensation benefits claim

The primary recourse for most workplace injuries, including those caused by defective equipment, is through workers’ compensation. This is a form of insurance that most employers are required to carry, which provides benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. Benefits may include:

  • Medical Expenses: Workers’ compensation covers all medical treatments related to the workplace injury, including hospital visits, medications, rehabilitative therapy, and any ongoing healthcare needs.
  • Wage Replacement: If the injury results in time away from work, workers’ compensation typically provides wage replacement benefits. These benefits are usually a percentage of the worker’s average wages and are provided for the duration of the recovery period.
  • Permanent Disability: If the injury results in permanent disability, workers may be eligible for long-term benefits or a lump-sum settlement depending on the severity and nature of the impairment.

Filing a lawsuit

In some cases, injuries from defective equipment may involve parties other than the employer, such as equipment manufacturers, contractors, or other vendors. If the equipment was defective due to manufacturing errors, failed to include adequate safety warnings, or was improperly maintained by a third party, the injured worker might have grounds for a third-party claim. Here are the components of third-party claims:

  • Product Liability: If the injury was caused by defective equipment, the manufacturer might be liable under product liability laws. This can include defects in design, manufacturing, or inadequate instructions or warnings.
  • Negligence: If a third party, such as a maintenance contractor, failed to properly service equipment, resulting in an injury, they could be sued for negligence.
  • Additional Compensation: Third-party claims can provide compensation beyond what workers’ compensation offers, including full wage replacement, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.

If you’ve been injured, get legal advice as soon as possible

An experienced New York workplace accident lawyer can guide you through the workers’ compensation claim process. An attorney can help ensure all necessary forms are completed correctly, all deadlines are met, help gather necessary medical evidence, and represent you in hearings if your employer or insurance company contests the claim.

If a third party was responsible for your injury, a lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation to establish liability, collect and present evidence, build a strong case that proves negligence, and help you file a lawsuit. If a settlement can’t be worked out with the insurance company, an attorney can fight for you in court.

Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP has been standing up for injured workers for decades. We understand the impact a workplace injury from defective equipment can have on you and your family. Our attorneys are ready to help you fight for the workers’ compensation benefits and any other compensation you might deserve.

Learn more about how we can help. Contact us to schedule a free case evaluation.

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