Unsafe Snowblower Design Leads to Severe Finger Injury

This case study explores a snowblower-related injury, focusing on the alleged unsafe design and inadequate warning labels of the machine. An expert in Snowblower Safety and Design provides insights into their professional background, the necessary information for a comprehensive warning label, and their willingness to inspect the equipment and provide an opinion by a specified date.

ByZach Barreto


Published on March 4, 2024

Person using snowblower

Case Overview

This case study examines an incident involving an adult who sustained severe injuries while attempting to unclog the auger of their snowblower during the winter season. The individual, while trying to remove the obstruction from the running snowblower, accidentally activated the lever/handle that keeps the machine operational, resulting in the amputation of two fingers.

It is alleged that this lever/handle was unsafely positioned, contributing to the accident. Additionally, it is claimed that there were insufficient warning labels on the snowblower to deter users from reaching into the potentially dangerous auger area while it's running. An expert in Snowblower Safety and Design has been sought to inspect the snow blower, provide insights on applicable design standards, and define what constitutes adequate warning labels.

Questions to the Product Design expert and their responses


Can you describe your professional background in product safety and design, specifically as it relates to snowblowers?

I am a licensed professional engineer with over 20 years of experience in mechanical engineering and maintenance processes.

My current role as a failure analysis engineer involves evaluating mechanical systems related to personal injury and property damage cases. This includes incidents involving lawn and property maintenance equipment like snow blowers that have failed or caused injury due to inadequate safety measures or warnings.


What information should be included on a snowblower warning label according to industry standards?

A comprehensive snow blower warning label should include details about pinch point hazards, temperature hazards, crush risks, and other potential injuries. These elements are crucial for meeting the ANSI Z535 series of standards.


Have you ever reviewed a similar case? If yes, could you elaborate?

Yes, I have reviewed numerous cases where improper machine guarding/interlocks and inadequate labeling were the cause of injuries, including finger amputations.

About the expert

This expert is a seasoned professional with over two decades of experience in the design, manufacturing, and repair of various equipment and systems, including automotive, recreational, agricultural, and industrial. They hold a PhD in mechanical engineering and are a licensed professional engineer in several Northeastern and Midwestern states. Currently serving as a senior mechanical engineer for a reputable forensic, scientific, and engineering solutions company, this expert brings significant expertise to cases involving mechanical failures and safety standards.

Expert headshot



About the author

Zach Barreto

Zach Barreto

Zach Barreto is a distinguished professional in the legal industry, currently serving as the Senior Vice President of Research at the Expert Institute. With a deep understanding of a broad range of legal practice areas, Zach's expertise encompasses personal injury, medical malpractice, mass torts, defective products, and many other sectors. His skills are particularly evident in handling complex litigation matters, including high-profile cases like the Opioids litigation, NFL Concussion Litigation, California Wildfires, 3M earplugs, Elmiron, Transvaginal Mesh, NFL Concussion Litigation, Roundup, Camp Lejeune, Hernia Mesh, IVC filters, Paraquat, Paragard, Talcum Powder, Zantac, and many others.

Under his leadership, the Expert Institute’s research team has expanded impressively from a single member to a robust team of 100 professionals over the last decade. This growth reflects his ability to navigate the intricate and demanding landscape of legal research and expert recruitment effectively. Zach has been instrumental in working on nationally significant litigation matters, including cases involving pharmaceuticals, medical devices, toxic chemical exposure, and wrongful death, among others.

At the Expert Institute, Zach is responsible for managing all aspects of the research department and developing strategic institutional relationships. He plays a key role in equipping attorneys for success through expert consulting, case management, strategic research, and expert due diligence provided by the Institute’s cloud-based legal services platform, Expert iQ.

Educationally, Zach holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and European History from Vanderbilt University.

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