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Workplace Accidents : Example Cases

• Injury in manufacturing plant
A contractor was hired to perform a series of jobs at a manufacturing plant. The foreman was responsible for ensuring safe work practices by his team. While helping an associate attach a pipe to one of the machines, the foreman stretched across the machine's conveyor belt, which interrupted an infrared beam and caused two probes to descend. The probes pinned the foreman to the conveyor belt, causing substantial bodily injury.

Examination of the machine controls and displays indicated proper functioning. Depositions indicated the foreman was unfamiliar with the machine, was in a hurry to complete this task, and did nothing to determine whether the machine was off.

The defense attorney retained the human factors expert. After the expert read the accident and OSHA reports, reviewed the operation manual and depositions, conducted a site inspection, and interviewed witnesses, he provided deposition testimony on design of instrument panels, visual perception, human information processing, warnings, and safety practices. The case settled during trial.

• Injury in retail store
A customer entered a home improvement store seeking gutters. He located the gutters on a shelf positioned six feet above the floor. While attempting to pull one from the shelf, another gutter fell on his head and caused substantial injury.

The store had posted signs asking customers to request help with items.

The plaintiff's attorney retained the human factors expert. After the expert read the accident report and conducted a site inspection, he provided a verbal report on human factors design principles, visual perception, anthropometrics and biomechanics of reach, warnings, and safety practices. The case was settled before depositions.

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