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Treadmill Entrapments and How to Prevent Them

By Grant Law Office on June 24, 2021

Closeup runner's feet on treadmill

The recent recall of Peloton+ treadmills has put a lot of workout enthusiasts on edge about the safety of their equipment. As useful as these devices were at helping people remain healthy during the pandemic, they can seriously injure children. Not only should parents carefully review their devices’ manuals and safety information, but they should also take extra measures to prevent their children from suffering entrapments.

What Is an Entrapment and How Do They Occur?

Entrapments occur when someone becomes stuck between two objects and suffers serious crush injuries. They are common in construction and industrial jobs where workers are at risk of being pinned between heavy vehicles like forklifts, buried during trench collapses, and getting their limbs caught in dangerous equipment. But entrapments can also occur in day-to-day life with standard consumer products.

Any space in which a person can fit his head, limbs, hips, or torso presents the risk of entrapments. Product designers, especially toy manufacturers, have a duty to design and test their products to minimize these risks and warn users of the potential for entrapment. For example, if a toddler is able to crawl between the bars of a crib, he could become trapped and catastrophically injured.

To avoid entrapments, manufacturers often design their products with guards that prevent consumers from fitting their bodies in between pivot points or moving parts, or make sure any open space is too tight for a consumer to fit into. In the case of a child’s crib, the manufacturer can prevent injuries by building the crib with sturdy bars that children are unable to fit between. Unfortunately, if the product is not properly designed, tested, and marketed, entrapment can still occur.

Why Treadmill Entrapments Are Dangerous

With treadmills in particular, the wide space between the belt and the floor presents a high risk of entrapment for small children. At high speeds, a treadmill’s belt can pull any object that comes into contact with it under the machine. While most consumers only have to deal with lost children’s toys, a child or toddler playing near the machine while it is in use could being pulled underneath the treadmill.

A treadmill entrapment could severely injure a child by causing:

In the case of the Peloton+, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) reported at least one death due to a child being pulled underneath the machine, resulting in a recall of over 100,000 devices. This tragic event is a harsh reminder of the danger of everyday consumer products and the risks of poorly designed exercise equipment.

What Can Parents Do To Prevent Treadmill Entrapments?

Studies show that the majority of treadmill injuries involve children younger than 16 years old. Whether these injuries were caused by children playing on the machines or simply near them, parents should always take great care to prevent their children from coming into contact with these devices until they are old enough to safely use them.

If you do own a treadmill and want to protect your child from being injured by it, you should:

  • Carefully read the treadmill’s safety manual to know how to safely operate it and turn it off in an emergency.
  • Move the treadmill to a room or garage where the child cannot access it.
  • Unplug or lock the treadmill when it is not in use to avoid children accidentally turning it on. Most devices utilize a locking pin that can be removed in an emergency to keep the machine from moving.
  • If your teenager is old enough to use the device, supervise them and teach them to use it safely.

What If My Child Was Injured by a Defective Treadmill?

If your child was injured in a treadmill entrapment, it may have been caused by a defective design or component. Treadmill manufacturers have a duty to design their devices to operate as safely as possible and to test for potential hazards. In these cases, you may be able to recover compensation from the manufacturer for your child’s injuries.

Product liability cases are complex and require a thorough investigation by a skilled attorney. At Grant Law Offices, we can sit down with you in a free consultation and determine if your child’s injuries were caused by a defective treadmill. Our husband-and-wife team works on only a handful of cases at a time to give our clients the best legal representation possible. Let us use our skills and expertise to get your child compensation. Call our Atlanta product liability attorneys at (404) 995-3955 to get a free case evaluation.

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