• Machinery Rules: Four Core Ideas for Liability

    Machinery Rules: Four Core Ideas for Liability

    Many upper-level managers know that machine safety is critical for limiting liability within an enterprise. But not everyone seems to have gotten the memo, and some companies still leave themselves open to lawsuits and fines by ignoring some core guidelines for the proper use of machinery and equipment.

    Here are some of the areas where companies can get into trouble if they are assessed by an outside auditor or if a serious injury happens on their premises.

    Operators and Operator Training

    Many pieces of industrial equipment require operators to be 18 years old, but some workplaces tend to employ workers younger than 18, primarily because they can pay them lower wages.  Still, some managers let them use industrial equipment, which is a major red flag because it violates established workplace laws.

    Machine operators need to be of age, but they also need sufficient training. Training may be required to help ensure workers understand the most hazardous aspects of the machine, and if that training has not been done, legal implications may arise.

    Reading Safety Instructions

    Many companies today also employ production workers whose first language is not English. But America does not tend to be a polyglot nation, and the vast majority of all training materials and other literature is in English. That places the burden on managers to determine whether workers using machinery have understood guidelines for its use, as well as the safety hazards that can result from improper operation.

    Provision of Safety Gear

    Some machines are much safer when operated by individuals with personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles or protective suiting. When companies cut corners and refuse to provide these items, or they simply run out during production, it exposes workers to injury and exposes the company to liability. Spending a few pennies up front can save thousands or even millions of dollars later.

    It is also critical that any safety equipment, such as safety bars, shields, grilles or other accessories, are available and in place at the work location. Some companies allow machines to operate without the availability of such specially-designed safety equipment, and that will be a major weakness in any defense to an injury that occurred around the machine.

    Machine Conditions

    Machines also need to be in working condition. This is somewhat of a gray area because there are small issues that may not involve worker safety. A good manager knows the machines well and understands what types of machine conditions are unsafe for workers. For example, if a carefully-designed mechanical hopper or other item is operating slowly because of a jam, this generally does not pose a safety concern. However, if parts are open or falling off, or the machine condition exposes workers to bare wires or other safety hazards, immediate repair is a must.

    Representing Injury Victims

    In southern New Jersey, Marlton worker’s compensation lawyers and other legal professionals assess work injury cases with detailed knowledge of federal, state and local law, and an understanding of which kinds of violations constitute negligence and inattention to worker safety. New Jersey residents can get help from the lawyers Jarve Kaplan Granato Starr. We have experience helping workers and others bring personal injury cases against an employer and/or other parties. Ask us about pursuing a case and how it can help protect your family’s finances.

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