Four FAQs about table saw injuries

Table saws can cause serious workplace injuries.

Table saws are fairly common tools used to help cut wood. With a table saw, the user can adjust both the height and angle of the saw to achieve the desired cut. The wood then passes through the blade either manually or with the assistance of rollers or a conveyor system.

Injuries can happen in either instance. The most common injury from these tools is the loss of one or more appendages.

How common are table saw injuries? Unfortunately, these injuries are fairly common. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that 33,400 people end up in emergency room departments across the country every single year for injuries connected to the use of these tools. Of this group, more than 3,000 suffer from lost appendages like fingers and thumbs.

Is there a way to reduce these injuries? With all the technological advances present to aid everyday lives, it is no surprise that there is an invention that reduces the risk of injury when using this tool. The invention works by sensing when a finger is nearing the blade. If the finger gets too close, the blade automatically shuts down.

The entrepreneur responsible for this invention presented it to the leading table saw manufacturers. They all declined, stating that safety does not sell. In an effort to prove them wrong, the entrepreneur started his own table saw company and has seen promising profits. His product's claim to fame: the safety mechanism all the other companies refused to incorporate into their own devices.

The entrepreneur has not stopped with this profit. He has taken his belief that all table saws should have similar safety mechanisms to lawmakers. Some lawmakers share his belief. As a result, the CPSC has proposed a rule that would require table saws to have a mechanism that would result in the shutdown of the blade after it approaches a test probe designed to represent a finger or other appendage.

Are there regulations to help reduce the risk of table saw injuries? The United States Department of Labor's Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) have regulations that specifically address the use of table saws in the workplace. These regulations are part of the Woodworking Machinery Requirements.

The regulations state that these tools must have a "blade guard, a spreader, and an anti-kickback device." Additional regulations are present, including that the device be set up in a manner that keeps the operator safe from "flying splinters and broken saw teeth."

What if I am injured while working with a table saw? Workers' comp benefits are generally available for those who suffer an on-the-job injury. Although you may qualify for these benefits, they are not guaranteed. Insurance companies may unreasonable deny a request for benefits. As a result, it is wise for those who suffer injuries at work from a table saw to seek legal counsel. An experienced workers' compensation lawyer can help better ensure you deserve the benefits you are entitled.