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A PA & NJ Machinery Accident Lawyer Talks About The Importance Of Lockout/Tagout Programs

Last month, a company in New Jersey was cited by OHSA for exposing workers to machine hazards.  A worker at Accurate Box Co. Inc. in Paterson, New Jersey was injured while performing maintenance work on a die cutting machine.  The maintenance worker was crushed when the machine was activated by another worker who was unaware that the maintenance worker was inside the machine.  As a result, the maintenance worker sustained severe internal injuries. *Source: www.osha.gov

OSHA conducted an investigation and found that the machine inadvertently started because Accurate Box failed to implement an effective lockout/tagout program.  Similar incidents had happened prior to this accident and the company was cited for those accidents as well. 

See our case result: Multi-million dollar settlement for an operator's arm injury on an industrial machine.

What is a Lockout/Tagout Program?

Machines and equipment have energy sources such as electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, etc.  These energy sources can be hazardous to workers, especially workers who service or maintain the machines.  The reason is because an unexpected release of stored energy in the machine could start the machine while the worker is servicing or maintaining the machine.

A lockout/tagout program provides the necessary procedures to disable machinery or equipment to prevent the release of hazardous energy.  It also provides training to workers on how to properly disable machinery and know if someone is in the machine performing work.  OSHA regulations outline measures for controlling different types of hazardous energy. 

Legal Rights of Injured Machine Operators

If a machine operator is injured due to an ineffective lockout/tagout program, he may have legal options other than filing a workers' compensation claim.  There may be a viable products liability case against the machine manufacturer if there was a defect in the machine that caused the machine to start inadvertently.

There may also be a case against the worker's employer.  Though workers in NJ cannot sue their employers for injuries sustained while at work, there is a very limited exception when workers can sue their employers.  When an employer commits an intentional act, i.e., an act where the employer knows that the consequences of the act are substantially certain to result in harm, the injured worker may bring suit against the employer.

See When Can an Injured Worker Sue an Employer Under New Jersey Law?

If you or a loved one was injured by an industrial machine due to improper or lack of lockout/tagout procedures, it is imperative that you speak to an experienced industrial machinery accident lawyers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to discuss your legal rights. Free consultations. 877.944.8396


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