Rookie worker didn’t know how to handle misaligned part

by on September 22, 2011 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

“You should have told me what to do if I didn’t put the O-ring on correctly,” said Rennie Moore. “If you’d trained me properly, my arm wouldn’t have been crushed.”

“I shouldn’t have had to tell you not to reach into a machine with your arm,” said Supervisor Grant Edwards. “Why didn’t you turn the machine off, reset the O-ring, and then turn the machine back on?”

“It didn’t occur to me,” said Rennie. “I’ve only been here three weeks and I’m learning the ropes.”

“I’m sorry for your injury,” said Grant. “But you’re trying to pin this accident on us, when you showed poor judgment.”

Could’ve done more?
“My judgment isn’t the issue,” said Rennie. “That machine should’ve had a guard on it, and you should’ve trained me better in how to handle situations like misaligning an O-ring. You must have known that I’d get hurt sooner or later, working without really knowing what I was doing.”

“I admit we probably should have installed a guard on that machine,” said Grant. “And perhaps we could have done more to train you. But no one thought you’d get hurt.”

“Well, we’ll see what my lawyer says,” said Rennie. “I’m taking the company to court.”

The worker sued for a payout higher than workers comp, saying the company should have known he’d get hurt working on an unguarded machine that he wasn’t adequately trained to handle.

The company got the case dismissed. The judge said that the lack of machine guarding and inadequate training was negligent and reckless, but it still fell short of “substantial certainty” an injury would occur. The worker received a substantial workers comp award – he just didn’t get a multi-million dollar payday.

Take home: It’s easy for new workers to get in over their heads. That’s why supervisors need to assume new workers will make rookie mistakes.

As this case shows, assuming that workers will catch on or use good judgment can be disastrous.

Cite: Gibson v. Precision Strip, Inc., No. CA2007-08-201, Ohio App.

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