What are the Dangers of Defective Table Saws?
September 17, 2021
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 87,000 people are injured each year by power saws. Table saws in particular cause grievous injuries, including amputations, lacerations, and fractures. Many power tool injuries could have been prevented by safety features that have been on the market for quite some time.
Manufacturers and distributors of power saws have a legal duty to sell safe products. Power saws that lack available safety features are considered defective. Individuals who are injured by defective table saws that lack safety features have the right to seek damages from the designers and manufacturers that failed to protect consumers.
Workers who must use table saws on the job face a number of hazards, including the following:
- Kickbacks: The wood or other stock that the saw is cutting can fly back and violently hit a worker if the circular blade catches on the stock. Dull blades are more likely to create kickback hazards.
- Projectiles: The saw can send dangerous particles flying at high speeds, including nails, splinters, woodchips, and broken saw teeth.
- Direct blade contact: Workers can lose fingers in an instant if they slip or become distracted and allow their hand to hit the blade.
- Entanglement: Loose clothing can also be pulled into a saw or nip points of the belt.
Workers may also face the risk of getting cut even when the saw is not moving, such as when they are performing machine maintenance or removing pieces of stock that are stuck in the sharp blade of the saw.
Lacerations are the most common types of injuries caused by table saws. In the worst cases, lacerations may result in amputation. Projectiles and kickbacks can also cause bruises and contusions.
How Do Table Saws Work?
Since the table saw was invented, the basic design has remained the same: a solid, spinning metal disk with a toothed edge that extends below the surface of a table. The saw cuts material that is pushed up to the blade. Today, table saws operate at speeds up to 3,000 to 4,000 revolutions per minute (RPM). Table saws are used in carpentry, construction, and in the production of wooden furniture and other types of manufacturing.
Band saws are similar in that they are also stationery. However, their blades consist of a long thin band of toothed metal that moves using a pulley system. Generally, table saws are more dangerous to use than band saws.
What Standards Apply to Table Saws?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publishes a number of standards for table saw safety, including:
- Vibrations: Machines should be constructed to be free from sensible vibration when run idle at full speed.
- Machine guards: Belts, pulleys, gears, shafts, and moving parts shall be guarded according to requirements.
- Hoods: Circular saws should include a hood or shield to guard workers against flying splinters or broken saw teeth.
- Power cut off: Operators should be able to cut of power without leaving their position of operation.
- Tripping: Operating treadles must be protected against unexpected or accidental tripping.
Employers are responsible for providing these and many other OSHA-mandated safety features for workers operating power saws. In addition, employers must provide safety training for workers so they can safely operate equipment and take advantage of safety features.
How Do Table Saw Safety Features Prevent Injuries?
Table saw safety features can prevent injuries in a number of ways, including the following:
- Preventing fractures, bruises, and lacerations due to kickback: Safety features, such as splitters or riving knives, can prevent the type of action, which pinches or twists a saw blade, causing the work piece to kick backwards and strike a worker. Anti-kickback pawls that can be attached to blade guards can also help prevent kickback.
- Preventing severe cuts and lacerations due to direct-blade contact. Fleshing-sensing technology can stop a cutting blade in a fraction of a second. If a finger comes in contact with a blade, this technology means that the worker may suffer a minor scratch instead of a severe laceration or amputation.
- Preventing cuts and splinters due to projectiles. Hoods and machine guards can prevent injuries from flying pieces.
- Preventing injuries due to entanglement. Machine guards and power cut-off features can prevent entanglement by belt-driven saws with exposed belts and pulleys.
Workers can also help avoid accidents by keeping the table top as clean as possible and checking the stock they are about to cut for nails, screws, and knots before cutting. Keeping the floor free of debris can also help avoid tripping accidents.
What Should a Worker Do if They are Injured by a Table Saw?
Workers injured in a table saw accident should notify their supervisor immediately. Employees who fail to provide notice of injury may lose their Workers’ Compensation benefits. Workers’ Compensation will pay for medical costs associated with a valid work-related injury as long as the employee has followed all of the procedures necessary for notifying an employer.
Workers who have any questions about this process should contact an experienced lawyer for assistance. A qualified lawyer can also provide counsel regarding the possibility of filing a third-party products liability claim.
Can an Injured Worker File a Third-Party Claim?
An employee injured by a table saw may be able to file a third-party claim to seek recovery of damages that can pay for their losses in addition to Workers’ Compensation benefits. Employees injured on the job should know that they can apply for Workers’ Compensation no matter who is at fault for the accident. On the one hand, this protects the benefits of injured workers. However, these workers may not know that they could have a legitimate third-party claim against the manufacturer or distributor of the table saw.
Table saw manufacturers and distributors are legally responsible for providing safety features that protect the users of their products from injuries due to inadvertent slip ups.
How can a Worker Determine if They Have a Valid Third-Party Claim?
A worker who has been injured in an accident involving a table saw should speak with a qualified lawyer to determine if they have a valid third-party claim. Galfand Berger LLP has obtained numerous significant third-party claim settlements for injured workers, including the following:
In many cases, manufacturers are automatically held responsible for the damages arising from injuries that are proven to be caused by defective products. However, proving that a product is defective requires the skill and experience of a lawyer.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Advocate for Clients Injured by Defective and Dangerous Table Saws
If you have been injured by a table saw at work, do not assume that the injury is your fault. If the saw could have been designed to prevent your injury, you may have a valid third-party claim against the manufacturer or distributor. Our Philadelphia products liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP stand up for the rights of injured consumers and workers. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online for a free consultation. We have offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, and we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.