State ex. Rel Penwell v. Indus. Comm.
Press Operator for 38 years injured when her left hand was crushed in a press. The press had two wrist cables for the operator and safety bar attached to the side of the press. Following the incident it’s important to note that the left safety bar was bent up and this would have taken immense force.
Defense: single malfunction
The press had operated for 38 years without a single incident.
The Court held that Safety regulations do not impose strict liability on employers, the purpose of a specific safety is to provide “reasonable” not absolute, safety for employees.
Practical Take Away:
- To be successful in this defense one must provide the timeline evidencing, claimant’s training on the machine, no other incidents involving the safety device, regular maintenance, safety meetings.
- It is comforting that the Court recognizes that an Employer cannot be an absolute insurer of an employee’s safety.