Safety insight: Now might be a good time to remind crew members of the importance of always following safety procedures while operating hazardous machines. Anyone who fails to adhere to procedures could be risking a severe injury.
What happened: A woman assigned to run a hazardous piece of equipment was trained to always keep her hands away from its points of operation.
What people did: The female equipment operator pressed the two-handed controls to activate the unit. However, nothing happened, so she reached into the point of operation while turning on the device, which caused the equipment to cycle and amputate part of one of her fingers. She was ruled eligible for workers’ comp.
Legal challenge: The woman sued for damages beyond comp, arguing that her employer knew she would get hurt operating the unit. She pointed to a similar amputation injury suffered by a different staffer running the same device four years beforehand.
The company argued that the woman had safely operated the machine for one month prior to her injury.
Result: The employer won. The court dismissed the lawsuit, saying the woman failed to prove the company knew for sure that she’d get hurt while operating the equipment.
The judge said the woman violated her employer’s safety procedures and that no one had been injured running the machine after the initial amputation injury four years beforehand, so the company had no reason to believe the woman would get hurt using the device.
The skinny: It’s usually hard for injured workers to prove their employers knew they’d suffer an injury.
Citation: Jones v. Dayco Products, LLC, Court of Appeals of Michigan, No. 357428, 9/15/22.
(From the Oct. 3, 2022, issue of Safety Alert for Supervisors. To start your no-obligation trial subscription to the publication right now, please click here.)