Whether it is the construction industry, a chemical plant, a manufacturing plant, or the industrial industry, heavy machinery is a normal part of everyday operations. Workers who are consistently near or working alongside these types of machinery understand that there is a huge risk involved. They are powerful and can be hazardous if operated unsafely, not maintained properly, or malfunction.
Accidents involving heavy pieces of equipment can leave workers with painful and debilitating injuries. These injuries may take weeks, months, or years to recover from, and in some cases, the individual may never fully recover. On top of long recovery times, injured victims may find that the financial toll has put a tremendous strain on their families.
The Hernandez Law Group, P.C. has worked alongside countless work injury victims who suffered accidents concerning heavy equipment. We know firsthand the pain and trauma that stem from these accidents. We believe that individuals should be compensated properly for their injuries so that they have the greatest chance of making a full recovery without harming themselves or their families further. Here is more information on the different dangers that heavy equipment operators face and what it can mean for your work injury case.
The Complex Landscape of Heavy Equipment Operation
Heavy machinery is defined as any piece of equipment that requires special training to operate. Typically, these machines weigh more than 5,000 pounds and may require more than one individual to operate them successfully. Some of the most common heavy machinery seen on a worksite include:
- Rock trucks
These machines can range from small work vehicles to more complex handheld equipment, such as a jack-knife or a grinder, all the way to larger machinery the size of a bridge. All of these machines have the capability to cause serious or life-threatening injuries. Proper training and maintenance go a long way toward ensuring that workers stay safe around them.
How Does Heavy Machinery Create an Unsafe Work Environment?
Worksites with heavy machinery present a higher risk of accidents and can be deemed unsafe. Heavy equipment can fail, malfunction, or be subject to human error. Any employee who works around or uses heavy machinery should be properly trained on the equipment and safety protocols should an issue occur.
On top of that, all machinery needs to be properly maintained to ensure that it works at its highest capacity at all times. Maintenance reduces the risk of failure and prevents small issues from turning into catastrophic problems.
Heavy equipment needs to be put on stable ground and set up so that it can do its job without blocking commonly walked routes. It should only be used as the manufacturer intended. Employers need to know the status of all the machinery on their worksite at all times. This includes being aware and having a record of the following information:
- What machines are being used and where they are located on the worksite.
- Which machines are down due to needing maintenance or malfunctioning.
- Which employees are working with the pieces of equipment on-site and whether they have been properly trained and certified.
- Routes in which the machines can move and where they can sit on the property when not in use to be out of the way.
Common Injuries Among Heavy Equipment Operators in Texas
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics report that accidents involving heavy equipment are responsible for over 800 deaths and 18,000 injuries in the United States every year.
Even a slight oversight on the part of the equipment operator can result in an individual getting pinned under a machine, falling off a piece of equipment, or being struck by falling materials from the arm of a machine. These types of accidents can lead to serious and debilitating injuries. Common injuries from heavy equipment accidents include:
- Crushed or broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Nerve damage
Most Recent Heavy Equipment Accidents in North Texas
- On March 29, 2023, a construction worker in Fort Worth Texas was killed in an accident involving a heavy piece of equipment. The accident happened around 4:45 a.m. near the Northeast Loop 820 and North Railhead Road. The employee got entangled in a piece of heavy equipment and died at the scene due to the severity of his injuries.
- On June 2, 2023, two workers were hospitalized after a trencher’s chain snapped, causing the machine to hit them. One of the workers had to be airlifted to the hospital and is in critical condition. The other one was seriously injured but stable and was able to ride to the hospital in an ambulance. This accident happened at Eagle Mountain High School in Fort Worth, Texas.
Factors Contributing to Heavy Equipment Accidents and Amplifying Risks
As mentioned earlier, heavy equipment accidents are often a result of a machine malfunction or human error. Human error can be either failure to operate the machinery properly, failure to ensure that the machine being used has been properly maintained, or lack of proper training on the machine. Machine malfunction can be caused by faulty parts, failure to have the machine properly maintained, or even a freak accident.
Employers need to take the time to clearly outline how to properly operate heavy equipment to keep their employees safe while on the job site. This includes ensuring that all employees are properly certified to operate the machinery or have special licenses if needed. Even a worker simply moving the machine from one space to another needs to be properly trained on how to operate the machinery and should not use it if they are not certified to do so.
All machines have different operating procedures. An employee certified to operate one piece of machinery does not necessarily have the skills or training needed to work on a different piece of machinery. Employees should not operate machinery without being trained on each piece of equipment. They need to show an understanding of what to do in an emergency should one arise.
It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that all pieces of equipment are properly inspected and maintained. If a machine needs an inspection or minor repair, it should not be used until it can undergo the proper maintenance work. Without this step, the machine has a higher chance of failing and puts operators and other workers at a significant risk of being involved in an accident.
What Safety Guidelines Can Employers Use to Keep Their Employees Safe?
- Ensure that all employees have the correct licenses and complete all necessary training.
- Read and understand the operating manual for the equipment.
- Check the job site and heavy equipment for hazards.
- Create a dedicated path for the vehicle’s movement throughout the job site.
- Establish limited-access zones for equipment with a swing radius.
- Use spotters for complete visibility.
- Follow all lockout/tagout procedures to the letter.
The Role of a Dallas Work Injury Lawyer in Seeking Redress After a Workplace Accident
Heavy equipment accidents are serious and often result in life-altering injuries that leave the injured party struggling to make ends meet. High medical bills, lost time at work, the inability to return to work, pain and suffering, and other damages put a huge strain on them and their families. While worker’s compensation may be able to cover some of the damages, it often isn’t enough for a full recovery.
The work injury attorneys at the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. fight for employees to get the compensation they deserve. An injured person shouldn’t have to struggle to recover from an accident that was not their fault. We represent injured employees who need help seeking compensation from an employer who is a non-subscriber or one who is a subscriber but was grossly negligent. Our attorneys do not back down from a challenge and work hard to ensure that we go after the at-fault party, whether that is the employer, the manufacturer of the equipment, or another coworker. Contact our team today to schedule your free consultation and allow us to fight for you!
Legal Resources for Injured Equipment Operators: FAQs
1. Seek out medical attention immediately.
2. Keep all medical records, including plans for future procedures.
3. Notify your employer of the accident.
4. Collect evidence including:
*Pictures of the accident.
*Information about where the accident took place.
*What you were doing at the time of the accident.
*The condition of the machine before and after the accident.
*Pictures of the machine.
5. Contact a work injury attorney.
Yes. Texas operates under a modified comparative negligence law. This means that even if you were partially responsible for the accident, you can receive compensation as long as you were not more than 50% responsible. Your compensation would be altered to accommodate your responsibility for the accident.
For example, if you were only responsible for 10% of the accident, you could recuperate 90% of your damages.
To establish negligence, you will need to prove the following:
1.The defendant had a duty to the injured party.
2.The defendant breached their duty.
3.The breach was the cause of the injuries that the victim sustained.
1. Medical expenses, including any future procedures or cost
2. Loss of income
3. Pain and suffering
4. Mental anguish
5. Property damages
6. Funeral expenses (in wrongful death cases)
7. Loss of consortium (in wrongful death cases)
The statute of limitations is one year after the date of the accident for filing a claim for work injury. You will want to act as soon as possible for the best chances of recuperating the compensation you deserve.
1. Look up reviews of the work injury attorney online.
2. Ask for references.
3. Get to know your work injury attorney:
4. Do they have experience in work injury claims?
*How long have they been working with work injury claims?
*What are the outcomes they have achieved for cases like yours?
*Who will handle your case?
*Are they willing to take your case to trial?