Construction Equipment Liability: Misused and Defective Products—An Interview with Tyler Schwein, Pie Forensic Specialist

English: Photograph of a NFPA 704 hazard diamo...


Warnings about the dangers posed by misused and defective construction products are on the rise. Some of the products are inherently dangerous by their design, and may not include effective means to protect, educate, or warn users. By failing to do so, tool manufacturers unnecessarily put both people and property at risk, oftentimes with disastrous results. Subrogation potential depends highly on these factors, and how well a manufacturer attempts to mitigate the effects of these dangers.


What are some of the more hazardous construction products?  Is effective guarding in place which could prevent avoidable injuries? What about Operator misuse?


Interview with Tyler Schwein, E.I.T, Pie Forensic Specialist


Q: What are some of the more hazardous equipment tools commonly being used in the construction industry?


Tyler Schwein: Ultimately, any tool lacking pro-active design measures to adequately prevent both bodily injury and property damage can be hazardous. I’ve recently investigated bodily injury cases involving nail guns and lawn mowers. My most recent property damage case involved a tractor.


Q: What do design flaws look like? Would you be able to tell if a product was hazardous?


TS: Common design flaws typically involve an inadequate combination of warning labels, safety switches, and guards to mitigate potential hazards. Typically, blatantly dangerous equipment designs do not make it into production. Unfortunately more subtle design deficiencies are oftentimes not apparent until after a disaster(s) occur.


Q: Let’s talk about manufacturing defects, what do consumers need to be aware of?


TS: A manufacturing defect is considered an anomaly. The product was designed sufficiently; however, in one instance due to potential defects in various manufacturing processes, a defect may be built into the device creating potential future hazard.


Q: What are some of the more common Operator misuses?


TS: Operator misuse is negligence on the part of the end user of the product. This typically includes ignoring warning labels, bypassing safety switches, or removing guards present on a particular tool or piece of equipment.


Q: What is being done to encourage proactive design of equipment and tools (i.e. warning labels, safety switches, guards)?


TS: The standards and regulations set-forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require proactive design of equipment and tools. Fortunately, many tool designers will take proactive design measures to both protect the end user and also limit their civil liability.


Want to learn more about construction equipment liability?


Tyler Schwein will be speaking at the National Association of Subrogation Professionals (NASP) 2013 Annual Conference “Set Sail for Subro” happening November 3-6, 2013 in San Diego, California. Known as the premier subrogation organization in the industry, NASP provides legal continuing education, training, and networking opportunities for insurance claims professionals, litigators, experts, collection vendors, and other service providers.


Clickety click here to register for the conference!


tyler schwein portraitAbout Tyler Schwein:


Tyler possesses a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Engineering with a Mechanical specialty from the Colorado School of Mines. He is professionally recognized as an Engineer in Training according to the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors. He has been extensively involved with failure analysis and laboratory testing as they pertain to mechanical engineering and claims investigation.


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