Construction is a dangerous profession, often because of risks that fall outside of your control as a worker. You can’t control the weather or the deadline the client sets. Your employer will be the one who provides you with some of your safety equipment and possibly even the tools you use. They might contract with an outside company for scaffolding and other safety-critical equipment.
Whether you own your own tools, use company tools or rent tools based on project demand, the potential exists for defective tools to contribute to your risk on the job. When that happens, you will need to keep an open mind about your legal rights because they may differ from many workplace injury scenarios.
How tool recalls can impact the safety of construction workers
When a company recalls products, they do so because they have received reports of the product failing or have discovered a defect in its design or in components used during the manufacturing process. In theory, a recall of the kind of tools you might use at a construction site, like a drill, would keep you safer, provided that you obtain a replacement tool or make the necessary repairs right away.
However, a defective part could lead to a tool failing on the job before a company starts a recall or you learn about the issue. For example, if you had to trim tree branches as part of a project, you might have used a battery-operated chainsaw that is part of a recent recall because it continues running even when people try to shut it down. You can probably easily imagine how a chainsaw running when you don’t want it to might lead to you or someone else getting severely hurt.
Tools that have electrical shorts, devices that malfunction and even tools that break unexpectedly could cause anything from electrical shock to sudden loss of balance, all of which could have tragic results for a construction worker.
Defective tools open the door to third-party liability claims
Many times, when a person gets hurt on the job, they make a claim against workers’ compensation or possibly even against the company that hired them so that they can receive medical care and financial compensation while they are unable to work.
In a scenario where your construction workplace injuries are clearly the result of the actions, neglect or omissions of a third party, you may have grounds to bring a lawsuit against them for your losses. Businesses that manufactured or distributed defective tools, as well as companies that provide or rent out defective items that led to an injury, may have liability for the losses you suffered.