Experts in heavy equipment do some heavy lifting, from accident reconstruction to appraisals on equipment weighing over 1,500 pounds. We’re talking about boom lifts, skid steers, welders, excavators, and other kinds of heavy equipment used in every setting from road and bridge construction to utility construction and more.
There are more than 400,000 heavy equipment operators in America, using paving and asphalt equipment, backhoes, bulldozers, excavators, and pile drivers. Workers are employed by municipalities directly and through private contractors.
According to recent OSHA statistics in the construction field, there are more than 100 fatalities and more than 20,000 injuries per year, of which 30% involve heavy equipment operators. Half of heavy equipment operator deaths are due to tip or rollover injuries. In one case, an employee was instructed to ship a piece of heavy equipment, but while he was attempting to remove the counterweight from the machine, he was crushed. Other common heavy equipment injuries involve collision or back-up injuries, hearing loss, and repetitive motion injuries.
A recent incident occurred on a water tunnel project. OSHA found that the locomotive lacked the bumper blocks to stop it as it approached the conveyor and that there was no means to notify the locomotive operator of problems while in transit. There was also a lack of timely inspections by a competent person prior to the work beginning. In OSHA’s language, there was a “confluence of conditions” that created a risk of being “stuck, crushed, and/or caught in and between the locomotive and tunnel boring machine.” Unfortunately, this OSHA investigation and report was triggered by a fatality against a company with prior OSHA violations.
Even this one case scenario should persuade you of the importance of specifically selecting a heavy equipment expert when working on a case involving heavy equipment. It is true that heavy equipment is a motorized vehicle and it is true that it is generally used in a workplace setting. But, when it comes to safe operations as per manufacturer’s instructions, as to legal and regulatory specifications, and as to industry standards, you really are looking for an expert in heavy equipment.
Likewise, this specialty expertise brought by the heavy equipment expert witness applies as part of computations for equipment damage, sale, or trade. Headlines may garner the workers aspect of these lawsuits, but there may also be property considerations. The situation in which we seek a heavy equipment expert could also be one of a partnership dissolution, a merger and acquisition, a sale of equipment to upgrade, or purchases of used equipment to strategically expand.
By: Paloma A. Capanna, Attorney at Law