Our client was operating a conveyor machine which was designed to transport large loads of salt from trucks into a storage building known as a salt dome.
The machine had a routine tendency to get jammed up because the wet salt leaves a slippery build up which coats the conveyor’s belt, drums, and other components. This build-up acted as a lubricant, causing the belt to stop turning under the weight of the salt load. As a result, the salt backs up on the conveyor belt, filling the hopper with more and more salt as the truck continues to pour its load. This back up strains the belt and hopper and could potentially damage the conveyor. Our client had been cleaning the conveyor all morning, both in between and during loads, trying to keep the belt turning and the salt flowing.
Our client was cleaning the excess salt out of the conveyor when suddenly the machine started moving again, catching his sleeve and pulling his right arm into the machine. This resulted in crushing injuries as well as torn skin and muscle, and our client lost the use of his right hand and arm. WKW argued that the machine’s design failed to follow several applicable safety standards in its design, including exposing workers to moving machine parts in places known as nip points. It was further argued that the designer had knowledge of the problems with build-up on the machine’s powered drive pulley and idle pulley and failed to address this problem in its design. WKW successfully settled the case before trial.