Workplace Injuries- Equipment Malfunction

Workplace injuries- equipment malfunction
Equipment malfunction cause workplace injuries

Written By: Dr. Jassin Jouria

A 37-year-old male is brought to the Emergency Room after a table saw blade malfunctioned and flew off its spindle embedding into his upper arm. He complains of sharp pain at the wound, and numbness and tingling down the rest of the arm. The Emergency Room physician quickly assesses and stabilizes the patient, then immediately arranges for transfer to the trauma center as he suspects a neurovascular injury. 

Workers in different industries operate a variety of machinery. Employers and employees are expected to follow safety guidelines, but accidents still happen. The accidents related to equipment malfunction can range from simple cuts and bruises to life-changing and even life-threatening injuries.

Who is Most at Risk of Equipment Malfunction Injuries?

Workers in different industries are at increased risk of equipment malfunction injuries. These professions include:

  • Construction workers
  • Warehouse operatives
  • People working in manufacturing plants
  • Workers in metalworking plants 
  • Agriculture
  • Mining industry
  • Waste management industry 
  • Workers in any other professions involving heavy machinery 

The type of machinery leading to malfunction injuries can include:

  • Forklifts
  • Cranes
  • Table saws
  • Nail guns
  • Loaders
  • Compactors
  • Haul trucks
  • Mixers
  • Backhoes 
  • Cable plows 

The list is exhaustive. The above are only a few examples of the heavy machinery that could lead to injuries in the workplace. 

Statistics Related to Equipment Malfunction Injuries 

According to estimates, machine entanglements are the most common equipment malfunction injuries. Around 34,000 workplace injuries involve entanglement with heavy machinery. An estimated 12 percent of manufacturing industry workers experience this type of injury. In addition, the manufacturing industry accounts for more than 41 percent of all machine-related injuries. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest that more than 800 fatalities annually are due to equipment malfunction injuries. 

What is the Most Common Type of Equipment Malfunction Accidents?

A lot of workplaces use large pieces of machinery. Even small errors can lead to life-threatening consequences. The most common type of equipment malfunction accidents include:

  • Accidents including getting caught under vehicles backing up
  • Accidents with heavy machinery and getting pinned under the machines
  • Heavy pieces of machines striking an employee
  • Getting injured when getting on or off a piece of machinery 
  • Getting caught under collapsing structures
  • Injuries when working with poorly guarded and designed machinery
  • Slipping or falling off an unguarded machinery 

What are the Most Common Types of Injuries Caused by Equipment Malfunction?

The type of injuries depends on the mechanism of injury and the type of machinery involved. These can range from minor cuts and lacerations to life-threatening injuries. The most common types of injuries caused by equipment malfunction include:

  • Cuts
  • Lacerations
  • Broken bones
  • Crushes limbs, hands, feet, or fingers
  • Concussions to the head
  • Broken skull bones
  • Bleeding outside or inside the brain
  • Damage to the structure of the face like the eyeballs
  • Electrical shocks, electrical burns
  • Broken ribs
  • Bleeding inside the body organs
  • Damage to the organs
  • Nerve damage
  • Paralysis
  • Amputation
  • Even death 
Workplace injuries- equipment malfunction
Workplace injuries from equipment malfunction

How Can Equipment Malfunction Accidents Be Prevented?

When it comes to equipment malfunction accidents, both employers and employees have responsibilities. The employer should provide appropriate training and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the employees. The employees should also follow safety measures to prevent workplace injuries. 

Employees and employers should take the following measures to prevent equipment malfunction accidents:

  • Keep Workstations Clean: Equipment malfunction can be due to spills, hazards, or scattered workstations. Keeping the workstation clean can help reduce equipment malfunction and the risk of accidents. 
  • Keep PPE Well Maintained: The employers and employees should keep the PPE well maintained. PPEs such as gloves, boots, goggles, vests, and helmets should be kept clean and well-functioning. 
  • Use Proper Machinery Sensors and Safety Guards: All pieces of heavy machinery have sensors and safety guards associated with them. The employers and employees should check the sensors and safety guards.
  • Provide Safety Training to Employees: Employers should provide proper training to their employees. This training should include managing pieces of machinery and how to deal with emergencies. 
  • Employees should Receive Equipment Training: All employees operating different types of machinery should be trained to do so. The employer should make sure that the employees have the relevant certifications to operate machinery. 

What to Do if You Have Suffered Equipment Malfunction Injury?

It can be a traumatizing experience to suffer equipment malfunction injuries yourself or see another employee suffer them. If you have in a situation where equipment malfunction injury is suspected, you should take the following measures:

  • Make sure you and everyone involved are moved to a safe location. Not assessing the location safety can put you and everyone involved even in a more challenging situation. 
  • Make sure the machinery is turned off and all tools have been put away from harm’s way to prevent further damage to anyone else. 
  • Survey the sufferer to assess any injury or deformity. 
  • If you have identified a minor cut, laceration, or injury, you can provide first-aid care if you are properly trained. 
  • If you notice major hemorrhage, obvious deformity, or suspect broken bones then call for medical assistance immediately. 
  • Even if you have given first aid, make sure you get yourself or anyone else involved assessed by a qualified medical professional. 

Letting the Occupational Health Team Know 

You must report any workplace incident to your employer and the occupational health team. The occupational health specialist will do a thorough assessment to ascertain the nature and degree of your injuries. This assessment will help you in the future if you want further treatment or file a compensation claim for your injuries.

How doctors think about falls
Meet the Author Dr. Jassin Jouria
Dr. Jassin Jouria is a practicing Emergency Medicine Physician who specializes in resuscitation of critical patients. The majority of his clinical work is at the Decatur County Memorial Hospital Emergency Department in Greensburg, Indiana. Learn More About the Author.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of its contributing author. The content is provided for general information purposes only. It is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always confirm any information obtained this web site, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment, with your physician. NEVER DISREGARD PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR DELAY SEEKING MEDICAL TREATMENT BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU READ ON THIS OR ANY OTHER WEB SITE.

Posted in ,

Nurse Joanne

Medical Authority