OSHA recently cited the Chicago meat processing facility of Bridgford Food Processing Corp. for willful and repeat violations. The vacuum packaging machines had improper guarding and lockout procedures which caused amputation injuries, finger lacerations and tendon damage to its workers. The same facility was cited for similar violations in July 2010.
We help many injured workers who are injured in heavy industrial machinery accidents in New Jersey, and many of our clients also suffer amputation injuries due to improper guarding on machines such as power press machines or packaging machines.
Like the Chicago meat facility recently cited, our clients' employers also knew that their machines lacked proper guarding or lockout/tagout procedures, but failed to do anything to eliminate the danger.
An injured New Jersey worker generally cannot sue his employer if he is injured at work under the workers' compensation law; however, there is an "intentional wrong" exception.
When an employer commits an intentional act and knows that the act is substantially certain to result in harm to a worker, the injured worker may bring suit against his employer in New Jersey.
Based on the facts given by OSHA, the Bridgford workers may be able to bring suit against Bridgford if the facility was in New Jersey. It can be argued that Bridgford had notice of the improper guarding on the vacuum packaging machines and was cited by OSHA in 2010 because of the risk of harm to workers. Despite the 2010 notice and citation by OSHA, Bridgford continued to ignore the OSHA citation and did nothing to eliminate the danger to its workers. Hence, the recent OSHA citations for the same behavior.
It often surprises me when employers know that a risk or danger exists and do not do anything to reduce or eliminate the risk. If you work with heavy industrial machines, make sure your machine is properly guarded and that you are trained on the lockout/tagout procedures.
For more information, feel free to contact our New Jersey and Pennsylvania industrial machinery accident lawyers. We have helped many New Jersey injured workers and are happy to answer your questions.
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