Human beings make mistakes. If we didn’t, there would never be a need for any kind of safety device – from a seat belt in a car, to blade brake on a saw, to a guard on a piece of industrial machinery. Engineers and product designers know this fundamental truth and are supposed to take it into account when designing things. If they don’t, that’s on them.
It hasn’t been released yet what happened this month to the woman in Barberton, Ohio who’s hair became snared in a machine that cuts off metal pipe. Amazingly, she survived, but only after her scalp was ripped from her head. Was the machine properly guarded? Did it use electronic eyes (like on your garage door) that detect a person moving or hinge-actuated interlock switches – either of which can automatically shut off the machine’s moving parts. That way, if the machine fails, it fails to a safe state, i.e., it fails safe by design. Or, were there guards on the machine that, at some point, were taken off?
What does this mean to you:
While manufacturers of dangerous products can be responsible for injuries caused by those products, generally your employer is not. However, if the employer removes a safety guard, that employer may still be responsible for injuries caused on the job.