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Regardless of the industry that people work in, there are hazards they have to deal with every day, especially when workers use tools and machines as part of their job. Those hazards are exacerbated, however, when workers have to deal with defective tools and workplace equipment, which can turn even the most basic everyday work into an accident waiting to happen.
Any tool has the potential for being dangerous if it is defective or poorly manufactured; this doesn’t just apply to power tools like table saws and drills, it can also apply to simple hand-held tools, like hammers, wrenches, or screwdrivers, as well. Depending on their industry, workers may also use very sophisticated, computerized machinery that must not only be manufactured to exacting specifications, but which also has to be well maintained throughout the life cycle of the tool or machine.
When workers use tools in the workplace, it shouldn’t be too much to expect that they have been manufactured to be safe when used as instructed and that they will operate as the manufacturer intends. And yet, when it comes to workplace accidents, defective tools and defective machinery are among the leading causes of serious injuries and fatalities nationwide and in Texas.
Among some of the most common defects in workplace tools and equipment include damaged or poorly manufactured power cords, safety switches that malfunction, hydraulic power tools without the fluid necessary to run them, missing safety guards, attachments that do not connect to the tools securely, and many more.
Every year, thousands of workers are injured, some of them fatally, because they unknowingly used a tool or piece of equipment in the workplace that was either defective or negligently manufactured. While it is true that some injuries in the workplace are covered by workers’ compensation, the injured worker may still be able to sue his or her employer or a responsible third party. Of course, workers’ compensation only applies if the employer subscribes to the state run program. Quite often, in order to save money, employers will tell the employee they have workers’ compensation in order to trick them into thinking they can’t sue, when they really do not.
In some cases, workers’ compensation claims can be denied because of employment contracts that are unclear and make employees seem to be independent contractors, which, in Texas means they have almost no rights. In some cases, employers will hire a worker as an “independent contractor,” but proceed to treat them as if they were a regular employee, and that potential misclassification can cost someone thousands of dollars. That’s why everyone needs to check and verify the status of their employment with the Texas Department of Insurance before making any decisions.
It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure that all tools and equipment that every employee uses on-the-job are in good working order and maintained that way, including the replacement of any broken parts when necessary. Also, even if everything on the workers’ compensation front is good, it may be possible for that employee to bring a claim against the manufacturer of the defective tools or equipment that cause an injury.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed on the job and you believe a defective tool or piece of equipment caused that injury, the qualified and highly experienced and knowledgeable attorneys at Adame Garza LLP can help. We can pursue every avenue of compensation to help you on the road to recovery. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.