Chicago Conveyor Belt Accidents
Conveyor Belt Accident Lawyers Representing Injured Workers
Conveyor belts are used in the grocery industry, warehouses, coal mines, distribution companies, factories, and assembly jobs to move material and increase worker performance. While conveyor belts are valuable tools, any malfunction could lead to severe injuries.
Were you injured in a conveyor belt accident, or did you lose a loved one through the wrongful death caused by another's negligence?
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC resolve cases involving workplace injuries to ensure our clients receive maximum compensation for their damages.
Contact our Chicago workers' compensation lawyers today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options. All information you share with our law firm remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship.
Conveyor belts are integral facets of the manufacturing process, and most assembly lines could not function without the helpful tool. However, failure to maintain, operate, and safely work around conveyor belts moving parts could result in severe injuries.
Additionally, many workers lack the safety training and knowledge of the dangers and risks of performing duties involving conveyor belts.
Any failure to provide a safe working environment or the willful disregard toward mandated safety standards resulting in bodily harm could create a company liability problem leading to a personal injury lawsuit and workers' compensation benefits guaranteed to all injured workers.
Causes of Conveyor Belt Injuries
Determining fault is instrumental in building any personal injury lawsuit, and understanding the common causes of conveyor belt injuries will help you determine whether you may have a case.
Following are some scenarios in which negligent actions or policies may injure those working with or around conveyor belts.
- The conveyor belt is not assembled correctly— The failure to follow instructions when assembling any heavy machinery can place workers at risk of bodily harm, and it is crucial that conveyor belts are assembled according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
- The conveyor belt is partially or entirely unguarded— Guard rails placed in locations where injured workers may accidentally place hands, fingers, or feet into potential pinch points reduce the risk of injury, and an employer can be held liable for lack of such devices where their use can be proven to prevent injury.
- The conveyor belt speed is hazardous— Conveyor belts' moving parts can cause crush injuries if hands, feet, or limbs are caught between the objects moving along them or between an object and the belt itself. Expecting workers to conduct their duties with belts that are moving at excessive speeds can be considered negligence.
- Defective conveyor belt equipment or design— If a manufacturing defect or poor design is determined to create a hazardous work environment, injured workers harmed in conveyor belt accidents involving the defective equipment may be entitled to receive compensation from the manufacturer.
- Lack of conveyor belt safety training— Many employers train their workers to perform their applicable duties without providing education on the hazards associated with the machinery in use. The failure to disclose the risks of working with dangerous equipment or not educating employees on safe and proper conduct when working on or near such equipment is detrimental to employee safety. The employer is liable for any injuries that result from inadequate safety training.
- Poor maintenance - Any improperly installed moving part of the conveyor belt can easily break or become damaged, posing a severe health risk to workers. The company must schedule routine maintenance that uncovers design defects and malfunction problems that could lead to a devastating conveyor belt accident.
- Items falling from conveyor belts— Overloaded conveyor belts may fill up with items, and some of the items may fall. The location of the belt or the object's weight can both be contributing factors in an injury and its severity. Items falling from a belt moving overhead can cause trauma to the head or spine, and heavy objects falling to the floor can crush toes, feet, or ankles.
- Lack of supervision -All workplace environments should be carefully supervised to quickly identify any potential risk of injury, such as finding a conveyor belt defect in real-time to avoid mechanical and belt accidents. Conveyor belts in disrepair or defective could injure workers when objects fall from the belt.
- Human error - Many serious injuries occur when the worker makes a mistake leading to a personal injury caused by blunt force trauma, electrocution from exposed wiring, or burn injuries.
Every employer must train workers using conveyor belts to avoid workplace accidents by following OSHA-approved conveyor safety measures. Most of the causes of conveyor belt accidents could be prevented if workers are provided training programs that each conveyor use rules by keeping long hair and jewelry away from the belt's moving parts.
All injured workers are entitled to receive financial compensation if they were involved in a conveyor belt accident, even if their mistake caused their injuries. The employer must ensure that all employees are covered through the Worker's Compensation benefit program that provides wage and death payments.
Conveyor Belt Accidents: Common Injuries
Nearly all conveyor belt accidents result from mechanical failure, exposed wiring, improper assembly, malfunctioning emergency stop cables, or being caught in the mechanical pinch or nip points. Conveyor belt injuries are typically the result of user negligence, improper inspections, or a failure to follow workers' safety measures.
Many workers injured on the job in conveyor belt accidents suffer blunt force trauma injuries when heavy objects drop off an unsecured belt, striking the worker below. Removing safety guards could cause the hands to get caught in the belt's moving parts, ripping skin and underlying tissue away from muscle and bone.
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), the most common injuries in conveyor belt accidents include:
All conveyor belt accident injuries can be prevented when protective devices and safety guards are installed, including enclosures, grating fences, barriers, and other obstructions. The company can also install secondary safety measures like emergency stop cables that allow the conveyor to be stopped at any point on the belt.
Employers can also ensure that workers follow lockout/tag-out procedures when maintaining the conveyor belt's equipment and machinery. Every employee must be taught proper workplace safety on how the equipment is energized to understand when a problem, issue, or defect is identified.
Conveyor Belts: Company Liability
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) provide proper guidelines identifying workplace safety issues when designing, constructing, or operating conveyor belts.
Federal regulations mandate companies to ensure that their conveyor belts remain snag-free by properly guarding all moving parts, including the belt, gears, nip points, and drums.
Many industries that use conveyor belts face liability when failing to provide safety for workers and must take proper steps to create a hazard-free workplace environment.
According to OSHA, the company, including its management, factory supervisors, and forepersons responsible for ensuring occupational safety, must:
- Identify any hazard related to using any machine, including a conveyor belt
- Enforce safety measures when using guards and devices to eliminate or reduce conveyor belt accidents
- Provide all workers with face guards and protective clothing
- Post warning signage identifying risks and reminding workers to follow safety protocols
- Estimate the potential risk of suffering severe injuries should a malfunction occur while using the conveyor belt or performing maintenance
- Train and supervise workers on correctly using a conveyor belt
When an accident occurs, the employer, management, supervisor, or business owner must ensure that the ill or injured worker receives immediate medical care. The employer should initiate an investigation and help the employee submit a claim to the workers' compensation payment program.
OSHA Reported Conveyor Belt Accidents
Hundreds of conveyor belt accidents are reported to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) every year. Recent accidents identified by the US Department of Labor include:
- Conveyor belt fatality, August 2019 - A 28-year-old male farm employee was working inside a chicken house repairing a manure conveyor belt while standing approximately 9.5 feet above the ground. The man and another coworker cut a plastic belt when he fell from the platform, hitting the concrete floor, sustaining a head injury. EMT pronounced the man dead at the workplace accident scene.
- Machine operator fatality, February 2020 - OSHA reported a 59-year-old male logging company employee was putting salt on a conveyor belt to stop the belt from slipping. The employee was near an unguarded sprocket while standing on mulch piles while the machinery was not locked out or shut down. The equipment snagged his coat, entangling him in the conveyor belt, causing severe blunt force trauma to his torso. The accident led to his death.
- Equipment operator fatality, August 2020 - A 61-year-old male highway and bridge construction worker performed maintenance on a paper conveyor belt to return the unit to service. The hydraulic system failed while the employee walked under the elevated conveyor system, causing the belt assembly to fall unexpectedly, striking the employee and entrapping him between the equipment and ground. The employee's multiple crushing injuries led to his death.
- Death by asphyxiation, March 2020 - A 56-year-old male construction company worker attempted to repair a conveyor belt motor while standing on top of the unit's holding hopper with the gates open. The man fell into the hopper, engulfing him in rock debris and stone, causing blunt force trauma to the abdomen and chest. The investigation determined that the man died of asphyxiation/suffocation.
- Fractured arm, March 2019 - A 30-year-old male was hospitalized after entering a caged area where dog food bags had fallen from the conveyor belt. The man's left arm was caught in the conveyor belt's take-up roller, causing a fracture.
- Finger amputation, March 2019 - OSHA reported a 42-year-old male employee's finger was amputated while he cleared a box jam that had blocked the conveyor belt when placing his hand onto the moving equipment. EMT transferred the man to the local hospital.
- Thumb avulsion, March 2019 - A 50-year-old male employee received training on using a machine when the conveyor belt pinched his thumb, causing an avulsion (skin and tissue tearing away). The laceration did not require hospitalization.
- Forearm and hand fractures, March 2019 - A 44-year-old male employee installing a conveyor belt with a coworker caught his hand between the conveyor nip point and tension roller, causing a fracture to the forearm and left hand. EMT transferred the machinist apprentice to the hospital.
- Ring finger amputation, March 2019 - A 56-year-old male caught his left hand's ring finger on a saw machine conveyor belt when a log became jammed. The injury led to the sawing machine operator's finger amputation.
- Finger amputation, March 2019 - OSHA reported a 29-year-old male inspecting a conveyor belt to see why it stopped moving and placed his gloved hand on top of the conveyor belt/pulley that was missing a guard. The accident occurred when the belt became unjammed, and the pulley pulled the gloved fingertip into the machinery, resulting in an amputation.
- Bone fracture, April 2019 - A 61-year-old male employee adjusting the conveyor belt fell into the machinery, suffering a fracture. EMTs transferred the employee to the hospital for treatment.
Conveyor Belt Accidents: Workers' Compensation Benefits
Employers must provide all workers injured on the job and surviving family members who lost a loved one in a conveyor belt accident Workers' Compensation benefits and death benefits.
The worker's compensation program provides injured workers benefits until they heal completely from a work-related accident or illness. Workers' compensation insurance coverage pays for hospitalization costs, medical expenses, lost wages, permanent or temporary disability benefits, and other monetary compensation for ongoing tangible costs.
Surviving family members who lost a loved one in a workplace accident can receive the decedent's worker's compensation benefits along with funeral and burial expenses.
Some occupations do not qualify for worker's compensation coverage, including the self-employed, business owners, farmhands, and people who work on commission. Typically, if the company does not provide worker's compensation, the injured worker can file a civil lawsuit against their employer to recover medical costs and lost wages.
In some cases, conveyor belt accidents result from negligence by a third party (not the injured worker's employer). In these cases, injured workers can file a third-party claim or wrongful death lawsuit to obtain compensation over and above workers' comp benefits.
Even if you are unsure whether you have a case following an injury at work, it is essential to know what benefits you are entitled to receive, to protect your interests and maximize your claim.
A capable attorney will investigate details that you may otherwise think irrelevant and discover evidence of negligence or product liability, allowing you an avenue to recover the compensation you need to pay medical bills and replace the wages you've lost during your physical recovery.
The Benefits of Legal Counsel;
Were you injured in a conveyor belt accident, or did you lose a loved one through a wrongful death caused by their employer's negligence? Do you suspect that you are receiving substandard workers' compensation payments from your employer covering your personal injury?
The conveyor belt accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you obtain compensation to recover all your damages. Call our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form. We offer free initial consultations to discuss the merits of your case.
Our law firm understands that your family might not have sufficient funds to hire an attorney to handle your legal issue. We accept every personal injury case and wrongful death lawsuit on a contingency fee basis, meaning no payments are made until we successfully resolve your conveyor belt accident case.
Our lawyers have an established track record of successfully representing clients' interests harmed on the job and ensuring that they receive the treatment and compensation that they rightfully deserve.
Our legal team is currently following CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Covid-19 (coronavirus epidemic) social distancing guidelines to protect our clients' health.