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  • Think Twice Before You Loan Someone a Power Tool

    power toolBy Richard M. Jurewicz, Esquire

    It happens every day.  A friend or a neighbor is working on a project and has to cut some lumber.  You are asked to loan your portable circular saw, table saw, miter saw or some other type of power tool.

    Wanting to be a good friend or neighbor you loan out your power tool.  Your friend or neighbor uses the power tool and is injured.  As the owner of the power tool, you may be legally liable for your friends or neighbors personal injuries under Pennsylvania law.

    Your legal liability may be based on the concept of “negligent entrustment.”  Essentially, what this legal term means is that you knew or had reason to know that the power tool would be unsafe in the hands of the person to whom you loaned it.

    One type of situation that arises is if the power tool is loaned to someone under the age of 18 years.  This should never be done even if the minor has woodworking experience since you are basically providing a potentially dangerous power tool to a minor.   This is similar to an adult providing an ATV, wave runner or snow mobile to a minor.  Like recreational vehicles and marine equipment, power tools should not be placed into the hands of a minor.  Minors do not have the same level of understanding, knowledge, experience and risk recognition that adults have with this type of equipment.

    However, what if the neighbor or friend is an adult?  Here are a few common-sense steps:

    • If a power tool has been provided to an adult friend or neighbor, an inquiry should be made as to the level of experience your neighbor has not only with power tools in general but also the particular type of power tool that they want to borrow.  If the adult neighbor or friend does not have significant experience with the operation and use of power tools, and has not previously been trained on the safe use of them, then the power tool should not be loaned in the first place.
    • If you are inclined to loan your power tools, you want to make sure that the power tool is being used for a purpose for which the tool was designed and intended to be used.  If there is any doubt then do not provide the power tool.
    • You also want to make sure that if you are going to loan your power tool then you should provide any Instruction or Safety manuals that came with the power tool.  Once the safety information is provided to your friend or neighbor, then arguably they have the necessary information to read, learn and understand the proper safe use and operation of the equipment expected by the manufacturer.
    • You should also review and point out any printed safety information and warning labels that are on the power tool itself and make sure that your friend/neighbor understands that information.
    • You should also provide a set of safety goggles because kickbacks and splinter projectiles do in fact occur with the use of power tools.
    • Also, you want to make sure that there is no free hand feeding of wood beneath or near the saw blade.  Hold down clamps should be used to secure a work piece so that it does not move.  Hands should be kept away from the blade at all times while the saw is on, not just when doing the cut.  If a piece needs to be fed underneath the saw blade, then it should be done with a push stick or device other than with the use of a hand.

    Given the liability and risks in providing a power tool, the only way you will get peace of mind is by saying no in a very polite way.  If you would like to speak with a Philadelphia personal injury attorney experienced in power tool injury cases, contact Galfand Berger.  Our lawyers have represented numerous clients injured in power tool accidents. Call us at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online.

    1-800-222-USWA (8792)