Everything You Need To Know About Machinery Accidents at Work

By Kasey Murray

When used correctly, machines help workers complete common job tasks efficiently and safely. However, poor training, lack of maintenance, or equipment defects can lead to accidents.

Contact with equipment and objects is the third leading cause of work-related deaths and the fourth leading cause of work-related injuries in the United States. If you or someone you love works with machinery, you need to know what to do if a machinery accident happens. 

What Are the Most Common Causes of a Machinery Accident?

What are the common causes of a machinery accident at work?

Injured Maryland workers often wonder why an accident happened to them. Machine accidents have many causes. These are a few of the most common.

Operator Error

Sometimes workers make mistakes when operating machinery that lead to injuries. Even when a worker causes the accident, they may be able to get compensation through workers’ compensation insurance.

Lack of Training

Employers must properly train employees to operate equipment safely. When they fail to do so, injuries can happen and the employer may be financially responsible.

Unsafe Working Conditions

Accidents may occur due to unsafe conditions in the workplace, such as pressure to work quickly or ignore safety precautions, lack of personal protective equipment, poor lighting, or use of improperly maintained equipment. Some unsafe practices may violate local or federal law.

Equipment Defects

Equipment can injure workers when a mechanical issue causes a machine to fail or operate unexpectedly. The manufacturer of the equipment may be responsible for injuries that happen because of defects. 

Defective machinery can also lead to injuries when employers or employees fail to follow the proper lock-out and tag-out procedures to prevent the operation of unsafe machines. When this happens, employees may use unsafe equipment without knowing the risk.

What Is an Example of a Machinery Accident?

Any type of accident that involves contact with machinery or the use of machinery can be a machine accident. Common examples include:

  • Machines pinning workers against an object
  • Machines striking workers while backing up
  • Workers falling off a machine while using it or attempting to enter or exit it
  • Machine parts or loads striking workers
  • Crush injuries caused by a structure that collapses

Workers can also sustain injuries when parts of their bodies get pinched, squeezed, crushed, or compressed in equipment, or between objects the machines are manipulating. Vibration and noise from operating machines can cause injuries and hearing loss.

Machines may roll over when operating on uneven surfaces or carrying unbalanced loads. Electrocution accidents can happen when workers are operating equipment near power lines.

What Kinds of Machinery Cause Accidents?

Forklifts are commonly part of machine accidents at work.
Large modern warehouse with forklifts

Any type of machine, from a handheld tool to large construction vehicles, can cause an accident. Larger and more dangerous equipment include:

  • Bulldozers
  • Cranes
  • Forklifts
  • Compactors
  • Backhoes
  • Drilling machines

Many Virginia industries use heavy equipment, including construction, manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, mining, and logistics.

What Kinds of Injuries Can a Machinery Accident Cause?

Accidents involving heavy machinery can cause deaths and severe injuries, such as:

  • Amputations
  • Electrocution
  • Paralysis
  • Brain damage
  • Organ damage

Accidents may also cause broken bones, cuts and bruises, nerve damage, loss of sight or hearing, burns, concussions, strains and sprains, and disfigurement.

Smaller machines can cause injuries such as crushed, dislocated, or broken fingers, puncture wounds, and repetitive strain injuries. Some machines may produce toxic fumes that can cause life-threatening respiratory or other reactions when workers do not have adequate protection. Falling objects caused by improperly secured loads and equipment rollovers can cause crush injuries.

What Should I Do if I Have an Injury From a Machinery Accident?

Workers injured by machinery should document the incident carefully.

The first thing you should do after a machine accident is notify your employer and complete any required paperwork to begin the workers’ compensation claim process. You have 30 days from the date of your injury to provide written notice to your employer and the Office of Workers’ Compensation, but sooner is better.

If your injuries require immediate medical treatment, call for an ambulance. Otherwise, get medical treatment from your regular physician or an urgent care center.

Gather documentation to prove your injury case. Document all medical care you receive and keep track of your symptoms. 

Write down what happened before, during, and after your accident. Take photos of the equipment and accident scene. Get contact information for any witnesses.

If unsafe working conditions contributed to your accident, file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and request an inspection. If possible, tell your employer about the unsafe conditions. 

For most workplace injuries, you should file a workers’ compensation claim as soon as possible and no later than one year from the date of the injury. In some cases, a personal injury lawsuit may be appropriate.

It is a good idea to talk with a personal injury attorney in the Washington, D.C., area to determine what all of your avenues for recovery may be. An attorney will also be able to guide you through the workers’ compensation claims process or help you file a lawsuit.

What Type of Compensation Can You Get for a Machinery Accident?

Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may be able to get compensation through workers’ compensation insurance, a personal injury lawsuit, or both. Workers’ comp provides coverage for:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Disability benefits
  • Rehabilitation expenses

To be eligible, your injuries must be job-related and must have occurred while you were doing work for an employer covered by workers’ compensation law. 

If a third party’s negligence caused your injuries, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. In such cases, you may recover damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and other noneconomic damages not covered by workers’ compensation. If a loved one died in a machinery accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit or recover death benefits from workers’ compensation.

Where Can You Get Legal Help for Your Machinery Accident?

Determining who is responsible for paying for damages that result from a machinery accident can be difficult. The team at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis, LLP, can help you get the benefits you deserve. We will not charge you for your initial consultation and there is only a fee if we succeed in obtaining compensation for you. Contact us today to get started.

About the Author
Washington, D.C. and Maryland injury lawyer Kasey K. Murray represents clients in a wide range of personal injury areas including car accidents, premises liability, construction accidents, medical malpractice, workers compensation claims and various appellate matters.