A 17-year-old employee at an Italian restaurant in Massena, New York, lost an arm while cleaning a pasta machine at work, according to official reports. According to witnesses, the machine “turned on” while Brett Bouchard was cleaning it, severing his right arm to the elbow. He was flown directly to Massachusetts General Hospital about 350 miles away to have his arm surgically reattached. He was said to be in critical condition but was upgraded to serious condition following surgery.
Bouchard had worked at Violi’s Restaurant since January of 2013. He is a high school student working part time. The restaurant has remained open for business despite the accident.
OSHA Standards Violated?
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA oversees and regulates the activities of businesses that hire employees, particularly those who are engaged in potentially dangerous jobs. It is possible that the restaurant violated OSHA standards both by allowing a minor to work on dangerous equipment and by allowing him to work on the machine without proper safety precautions such as unplugging it.
OSHA or a state agency or both may choose to investigate the accident. If so and if the agencies find any violations, the owner of the restaurant could find that both criminal and civil penalties may apply. OSHA has the power to suggest that a prosecutor charge a business with serious safety violations. Further, employees may use this type of information as the basis of a personal injury lawsuit for damages.
However, what this tragedy should also serve to remind everyone is that accidents can happen in a moment and everyone should be careful when working around machinery not to place himself or herself in harm’s way.
Filing a Work-Related Claim for Damages
Work-related accidents can be complicated because they can fall under two different types of categories: those covered by worker’s compensation and those for which the employee must sue a third party.
Worker’s compensation pays for medical treatment and expenses when employees are injured. However, if a third party is involved the worker may also have to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages. For example, in this case if the machine was defective, a worker would have to file a claim against the manufacturer to collect money for injuries caused by the defect.
The Fitzgerald Law Firm in New York represents workers who have been injured on the job and protects their interests. Give them a call today.