Thomas J. Cocchiola, PE, CSP ::::
Case Synopsis: A worker at a drycleaning facility sustained severe burns when a garment press malfunctioned and unexpectedly closed on his hands. An operator would typically place a pair of pants onto a stationary lower buck and activate a pushbutton to close the press. The operator must continuously activate a pushbutton as the press closes; the press immediately opens if the operator releases the pushbutton. After the press closes, the operator is able to activate a second pushbutton to lock it in position until a timer releases it. The accident occurred when the press closed unexpectedly and trapped the operator’s hands while he was smoothing wrinkles in a pair of pants.
Expert Analysis: An analysis revealed that a technician inadequately repaired the press about a week before the accident. In particular, the technician failed to adjust and test the safety device. Testing conducted during the analysis replicated conditions created by the technician and confirmed that an improperly adjusted safety device caused the press to close and trap the operator’s hands. The analysis concluded that the accident was caused by the technician’s failure to adjust and test the safety device in accordance with the requirements of the garment press manufacturer as well as applicable safety standards.
Result: The case was successfully resolved before trial.
Thomas J. Cocchiola, PE, CSP, is a consultant with DJS Associates and can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or by phone at 215-659-2010