Safety Experts Opine on Injury Caused by Unsafe Vehicle Operation in Retail Store


Retail Safety ExpertThis case involves an injury sustained when a child ran over a customer at a large home improvement supply retailer. At the time of the accident, an employee of the store left a large electrically powered vehicle in one of the aisles of the stores with its key in the ignition. A child, who was left unattended by his parents, was able to climb into the vehicle and turn it on. The child then began to drive the vehicle down the aisle of the store, at which point he collided with a customer. The customer suffered several fractures of his right leg as a result of the accident that required extensive surgeries to repair. The Defendant claimed that there was no requirement for the store’s employee to return the vehicle to the rear warehouse portion of the store, while the Plaintiff alleged that the store should have taken precautions to make sure that customers would be unable to operate the vehicle.

 

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Could there have been any safeguards put in place to prevent this accident?

Expert Witness Response E-037641

OSHA lockout/tag out procedures should have been followed in order to prevent this incident. This would have been the most logical and appropriate mitigation measure which, in addition, is also a government mandated means of prevention for injury. My first thought is that some safeguards that could have been in place at this time include barrier devices such as safety chains, access doors, or guards. Some other measures that could have been installed might have included tethered keys with a safety switch that would cause the operator to access an additional measure to operate the vehicle, wheel chocks that could have been put in place to prevent ease of movement, and an authorized list of users placed on the vehicle and the same list posted in a central location where a key had to be signed out and returned and periodic checks made of the vehicle. The child in this case should absolutely not have been able to operate the vehicle.

Expert Witness Response E-007614

Expert-ID: E-007614

I am familiar with safety protocols as relate to vehicle access and operation, particularly with industrial vehicles in public areas. This case appears to be quite simple in terms of the requirements of ANSI, specifically ANSI 56.8 Section 7.3.1.5-7.3.1.6. The vehicle controls should have been neutralized and the parking brake set to prevent unauthorized users from operating the vehicle. This is required each time the operator dismounts the vehicle. If the operator is more than 25 feet away, or not in visual range (if the operator is less than 25 feet away from the vehicle) the key must be removed. I have been qualified as an expert with regards to workplace safety, and have worked on several case involving powered industrial trucks.

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