Tinnitus As Result of Defective Work Equipment

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Tinnitus As Result of Defective Work Equipment

A year ago I was working in the bakery of a super market chain and we I was told to use and clean our bagel kettle, which was seldom used in the past, and never by me before. I never received any formal training in using the kettle but understood the verbal instructions given by my bakery manager just prior to using it. After testing the bagel kettle, I began to clean the inside. This consisted of draining the kettle, removing the baked-on residue of the bagel dough from the inside of the kettle, and spraying water from a sink hose into the kettle to expedite the process. The water coming from the sink was not warm, nor was it ice-cold either. It seems the hot water heater, as it had in the past, malfunctioned. After cleaning the kettle, I closed the lid. Steam was coming up from the sides of the lid but this is also a normal occurrence during the boiling process as well. I turned around to clean something in the sink, and as I turned my face back to the bagel kettle, the lid blew off with a loud explosion. The lid and steam missed my face by a couple inches, but the sound of the explosion temporarily muffled my hearing and caused ringing in both ears. Pieces of the ceiling fell around me as I was ran out of the bakery to safety, and I was escorted to a nearby bathroom to be cleaned up as I was mysteriously covered in black soot. I went to the hospital immediately after, and no physical damage was visible in either ear (i.e no torn ear drums). This was confirmed also by visits to the company doctor. However, the tinnitus in my right ear persisted, and still persists to this day. I am still seeing to tests by an audiologist to determine if there is an accompanying hearing loss. I was told months ago by my bakery manager that he was informed by a technician unfortunately who I did not meet or speak to that a safety mechanism within the kettle failed to discharge the excess steam in the kettle, causing a buildup that eventually led to the explosion. It is my understanding that the lack of use of the kettle during my time of employment was also coupled by a lack of maintenance which may have been responsible for this malfunction. I would like to know if I have a viable case against my former employer, and if so, how I should proceed in undertaking this legal matter?

Asked on May 26, 2017 under Personal Injury, New Jersey

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Since you were injured on the job, you have a workers' compensation claim.  Your employer's HR department should have the applicable documents for filing a workers' compensation claim.  It would also be advisable to speak with a workers' compensation attorney.


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