If you work in construction, agriculture, manufacturing, or a number of other occupations, you probably use heavy machinery on the job. If you are injured using heavy equipment at work, Marin attorneys with workers’ comp experience can help you acquire the benefits you need.

Heavy machinery on the job helps workers achieve an employer’s goals, but when the machinery isn’t properly used and maintained, workers are injured and sometimes lose their lives. Great safety improvements have been made, but employees are always at risk around heavy equipment.

Can work-related accidents that involve heavy equipment and machinery be prevented? What are your rights if you’re injured at work? Keep reading. You’ll learn those answers – and more about your rights – in this short discussion of workplace accidents that involve heavy equipment.

WHAT ARE THE BASIC SAFETY TIPS FOR USING HEAVY EQUIPMENT?

If you’re an equipment operator at a California construction site, or if you use any heavy equipment and machinery on the job, you and those you work with may be at risk. Training and experience are imperative – and those who are trained and experienced must avoid complacency.

Safety must always be the highest workplace priority. While employers are legally obligated to keep their workplace reasonably safe, safety at the job is everyone’s responsibility. Here are some basic safety tips for working in and around heavy machinery and equipment:

  1. Employers must ensure that equipment operators are adequately trained.
  2. Never use equipment that you are not trained to use.
  3. Keep away from moving parts.
  4. Have a safety plan in place.
  5. Use safety guards and wear safety gear.

WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT MACHINERY AND EQUIPMENT TRAINING?

Before any employee operates heavy equipment or machinery, proper training is imperative – whether or not that training is required by safety regulations. Never overlook the importance of training, which includes the following:

  1. understanding that each piece of machinery is unique and requires separate training
  2. learning how to operate equipment while others are present or nearby
  3. learning a machine’s safety features and likely hazards
  4. taking refresher courses periodically to stay abreast and aware of safety requirements

Some of the equipment you use at work may require licensing or certification for the user. A worker’s failure to receive adequate training before operating machinery can severely injure or even kill someone. When equipment is in use, horseplay and “goofing off” must not be allowed.

WHAT CAN HAPPEN WHEN HEAVY MACHINERY IS IN USE?

If you routinely work around heavy machinery, it’s easy to become distracted, and distraction is a leading reason why workers are injured around such equipment. When machinery is on, avoid contact with it and with the person operating it.

You also must avoid getting too close to a piece of equipment and getting struck by a moving part.

DOES YOUR EMPLOYER HAVE A SAFETY PLAN?

Along with general safety procedures – having fire escape routes planned and first aid kits located at key locations, for example – it’s important to have procedures in place for machinery that begins to operate unreliably.

Identify the steps that must be taken to shut down equipment, and if necessary, to clear the area. Always report any flawed or defective equipment or machinery – or any other potential workplace hazard – immediately.

HOW IMPORTANT ARE MACHINE GUARDS?

Most modern heavy equipment and industrial machinery comes with safety guards and a variety of safety features. Learn how these features work and take advantage of the protection they offer. Machine guards keep workers safe from debris that may fly back from or out of the machinery.

WHAT ABOUT APPROPRIATE SAFETY GEAR?

Almost every piece of heavy equipment and industrial machinery requires the operator to wear safety gear. A failure to use safety gear exposes an employee to a number of hazards. It’s always better to use caution and to be safe rather than sorry.

The proper safety gear for industrial equipment operators usually includes but is not necessarily limited to gloves, hard hats, goggles, ear plugs, and steel-toed boots or shoes.

Wear protective gloves that are appropriate to your job and the equipment you’re using. In the vicinity of heavy equipment, always wear a hard hat and safety glasses or goggles with side shields.

HOW CAN DAILY VISUAL INSPECTIONS PREVENT ACCIDENTS?

As mentioned previously, the legal obligation to keep a workplace reasonably safe is the employer’s, but if you use operate heavy equipment or industrial machinery, you must take the responsibility for your own safety, too.

A daily visual inspection of machinery and equipment can save you and your colleagues from serious injuries. Protect yourself at the start of each workday with a visual inspection of the equipment that you’ll be using. A visual safety inspection should include:

  1. checking a machine’s tires or tracks
  2. checking all fluids – water, oil, and/or hydraulic fluids
  3. checking for damage on air and water hoses, booms, and buckets
  4. checking for loose electrical connections and frayed wiring
WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF WORKPLACE SAFETY?

Above all, and in any work environment, staying aware of your surroundings and alert to what’s happening is the most important thing you can do to stay safe and injury-free. If you operate heavy equipment, keep untrained and unauthorized persons away from where you’re working.

Always know the machine that you’re working with and know how it moves. If you operate a crane, for instance, know the extent of its swing radius and its other potential movements.

Hazards are everywhere, including above and below you. If you’re doing construction or other work outdoors, know where the power lines are and plan your work so that you avoid them. Also be aware of sewage, gas, and water lines, and have them marked before work begins.

WHAT STEPS SHOULD YOU TAKE IF YOU’RE INJURED AT WORK?

Employees in every line of work in California are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits when they are injured on the job. If you are injured by heavy machinery or industrial equipment at work, report the injury – immediately and without delay – to your manager or supervisor.

After you’ve been examined by a healthcare professional, and after you’ve reported the accident and injury to your employer, seek the advice of a California workers’ compensation attorney at once.

An attorney with workers’ comp experience will help you submit a claim for worker’s comp benefits. Workers’ comp in California pays for all of an injured employee’s medical expenses and partially replaces that employee’s wages until he or she can return to work.

HOW WILL A WORKERS’ COMP LAWYER HELP AN INJURED WORKER?

An attorney’s help can ensure that your workers’ comp claim is processed without any mistakes or misunderstandings that might hold up your benefit payments. If your workers’ comp benefits are denied, your lawyer can appeal that decision and fight aggressively for the benefits you need.

Marin attorneys who have workers’ compensation experience understand that when you’re injured, and when that injury keeps you from working, your medical bills and monthly obligations pile up fast, so you’ll need workers’ compensation benefits at once.

A California workers’ comp lawyer will use every appropriate tool to expedite the process and put workers’ comp benefit payments in your hands as quickly as possible. If you are injured at your job, an attorney’s help is your right. but you have to take the first step – and make the call.