At the last annual count from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over 4,600 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States. Many of the injuries are the result of heavy equipment accidents.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a report that found that up to half of all industry fatalities are partially caused by heavy equipment.
The majority of heavy equipment incidents are vehicle-related, non-passenger collision deaths in various industries. The NIOSH report indicates most heavy equipment injuries result from overturning, collision, falling and flying debris, or becoming caught in running equipment.
Road, highway and bridge construction sites account for almost 80 percent of heavy equipment deaths each year. Other common industries affected by equipment accidents include the following:
• Oil and gas extraction
Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Cincinnati, Ohio Work Injury and Product Liability Attorney, with experience in catastrophic injuries due to heavy equipment and industrial accidents.
Mr. Lyon has represented plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of product liability, wrongful death and injury claims.
Occupational Injury & Machinery Accidents
Any person on a job site running heavy equipment is at risk of injury and must take the proper precautions to remain safe. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), laborers at the workplace are most at risk of injury or death.
Over 200 construction laborers died between 2008 and 2010 as a result of incidents involving vehicles and mobile heavy equipment. Other occupations identified as being “high risk” by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) include the following:
• Pavers and surfacers
• Truck drivers
• Operating engineers
• Crane operators
Heavy Equipment Accidents
According to an independent report published by the Center to Protect Workers’ Rights, rollovers were the main cause of death of heavy equipment operators.
For workers on foot, being struck by heavy equipment or trucks (especially while backing up), and being struck by equipment loads were the major causes of death. Other common incidents include the following preventable events:
• Struck by Equipment or powered vehicle
• Struck by discharged or flying object
• Caught or compressed in running equipment or machinery
• Struck or crushed in collapsing structure
Preventing Equipment Failure
The majority of injuries and deaths that occur on work sites are associated with some degree of human error, though many often also involve malfunctioning or faulty equipment.
Often, both variables account for an accident, and although blame is shifted from party to party, equipment manufacturers and companies managing workplaces have a duty to ensure no injury or death occurs. The most obvious, and preventable, reasons accidents occur include the below reasons:
• Inadequate Training
• Unsafe Construction Site Design
• Negligent Equipment Maintenance
• Defective Machine Design—Equipment malfunction
• Safety Violations–Removal of a Safe Guard
• Ineffective supervision
• Blatant inattention
• Reckless misuse of equipment
The Lyon Firm works with construction experts, engineers, and OSHA safety experts to investigate and determine the root cause of heavy equipment accidents to build a compelling case and win compensation for injured victims and their families.
Defective Heavy Equipment
Vehicles and mobile heavy equipment are a major source of fatalities in the construction industry, resulting in over 400 deaths annually. Every worker in heavy industry is at risk, though road construction is especially dangerous work.
Powered vehicles are the source of more than half of the fatalities at road construction sites. Equipment at farms, oil and gas extraction sites, mining and factories also creates many hazards for workers. Some of the most dangerous heavy equipment includes:
• Dump trucks
• Fork lifts
• Man lifts (cherry pickers)
• Compactors and Rollers
• American Augers
• Skid Steers
Manufacturing & Factory Equipment
Though construction sites are common places for heavy equipment accidents, factories see their share of horrific mishaps when machines malfunction or proper safety measures are not instituted. In private industry manufacturing in America, about 35,000 non-fatal injuries are reported each year. Common injuries, like the following, can be quite traumatic and debilitating:
• Traumatic Brain Injury
• Orthopedic Trauma
• Toxic Exposure
Workers are regularly injured performing normal, daily tasks. Typically, factory workers are injured while working in the following capacities:
• Operating machines
• General repair and maintenance
• Unjamming materials
• Cleaning or adjusting machines
• Reaching or stepping over machines
• Inspecting machines
Equipment Injury Settlements
The Lyon Firm settled a heavy equipment injury settlement in Clermont County, Ohio involving a failure to design and operate a safe construction site, as well as a failure to train machine operators in the use of heavy excavation equipment.
Joseph Lyon represented a flagger who suffered a catastrophic leg amputation when the operator of the excavating equipment struck him from behind, causing him to be dragged under the equipment. The settlement assisted the client in future medical care and recovery of lost wages.
Companies managing an unsafe workplace or construction site can be liable for injuries sustained on the job. In some cases, general contractors, property owners, architects, engineers, suppliers, and equipment manufacturers may also be responsible for compensating victims of equipment accidents.
Each year, equipment accidents generate millions in settlements and verdicts for victims. Most commonly, the cause is human error and company negligence; however, product liability issues cannot be discounted. In many past incidents, heavy equipment has been found to be inherently flawed or malfunctioned.
If machinery is found to have a faulty design or missing safety components, victims and their attorneys can file suit against large equipment manufacturers.