An equipment operator was crushed and killed by a piece of industrial equipment that engaged and moved unexpectedly when it was unplugged from its battery charging cord. Testing and examination revealed that an internal lockout device prevented the equipment from engaging and running while it was charging, even if the machine’s controls were activated. However, if the machine was unplugged from its battery charging cord while the controls were activated, the machine engaged and began running after a three second electrical capacitance delay. Plaintiff likened this hazard to being able to start a car in drive or reverse. Plaintiff contended that this “unintended movement” by the machine should have been designed out of the equipment. The defense claimed that decedent misused the equipment by entangling equipment in the controls of the machine and failing to follow pre-use guidelines.
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