Are Supervisors Liable for Injury on the Job?

How much responsibility does a supervisor take when it comes to injury on the job? Apparently, quite a bit, when the supervisor is giving direction to the employee that results in injury. In one such case, a supervisor pushed an employee to get the job done even when the employee complained that the machine didn’t seem to be functioning correctly and when the supervisor was not trained to advise on repairing the machine.

In fact, in court, Carey admitted that he wasn’t trained to repair machines. It was also revealed that affixed to the machine at the time of Bryant’s injury was a yellow warning sign that stated, “Never Install Dies or Service This Machine With the Flywheel in Motion and/or the Motor On.”

Furthermore, when Carey’s boss took the stand she explained the procedure for dealing with machine malfunctions: “If a machine is defective or we feel that it may have a problem, basically we shut it down and call maintenance and they will come over as quickly as possible and evaluate the problem and confer with the supervisor.” When asked if this is what Carey should have done on the morning of the accident, his supervisor replied, “I would assume that he should have called maintenance, yes.”

There are sufficient grounds to find that the supervisor’s negligent acts resulted in the employee’s injury, ruled the Missouri Court of Appeals. By making unauthorized repairs and by directing the employee to continue to use a malfunctioning machine that a reasonable person would have recognized as potentially hazardous, the supervisor breached his duty to help keep his employees safe on the job.

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