One in every ten construction workers will suffer an injury that results in long-term or permanent disability. Work sites that involve cutting operations are particularly dangerous, as employees are at increased risk of lacerations, eye injuries, amputations, broken bones, and even fatal construction injuries as a result of a saw accident.
Common Causes of Saw Injuries on NYC Construction Sites
Saws and cutting tools cause tens of thousands of injuries every year in the United States. Table saws alone are responsible for nearly 30,000 emergency room visits annually. Workers have suffered deep cuts and gouges, lost fingers and hands, and experienced severe blood loss and scarring due to construction saw accidents—many of which could have been prevented if proper safeguards had been in place.
The most common types of saws that cause construction site injuries include:
Table-mounted circular saws. Table saws are commonly used for straight sawing, such as crosscut and ripsaw wood operations. Injuries are often the result of an operator's hands coming too close to the spinning saw blade while maneuvering the material, or as the blade “kicks back” a piece of material into the worker’s face or body.
Skill saws. These hand-held circular saws carry all the risks of table saws, with the additional hazard of portability. Often called “skill” saws, they allow cuts to be made faster and without the need to carry material to a cutting site. Unfortunately, the versatility of this power tool makes it overwhelmingly likely to cause injury. If the spinning blade is not properly guarded, it may strike a worker’s chest, neck, or limbs, often with fatal consequences.
Band saws. Band saws are equipped with thin, flexible blades that run between pulleys. The saw has a flat work surface on which materials are hand-fed for straight sawing or curved cutting. Injuries involving band saws are less common than table saw accidents, but nearly all injuries involve hand contact with the blade.
Jig saws. Jig saws allow workers to make precision cuts using a thin blade that moves rapidly up and down through the work surface. If not guarded properly, workers may suffer hand and finger injuries during cutting or while removing debris or finished pieces from the table.
Who Should Be Held Responsible for a Construction Saw Injury?
Since most injuries caused by saw accidents are severe, many employees will incur costs that are not fully covered by workers’ compensation. While workers in these situations may not sue their employers, they may be eligible to file a third-party lawsuit against a party who caused the injury.
People and entities that may be liable for a construction saw accident include:
Contractors or sub-contractors. If you were working alongside a negligent party who had a different employer, that person could be financially responsible for your injury. Some examples of negligence include someone who removed safety guards from machinery, engaged in horseplay, left a machine unattended, did not perform proper housekeeping, or failed to follow safety regulations.
Independent safety inspectors. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all power tools to be equipped with safety guards, that all machines be in proper working condition, and that operators are adequately trained before sawing and cutting activities may take place. If the building site owner or employer relied on the negligent advice of an independent inspector, the inspector may be liable for his or her failure to identify hazards.
The manufacturer of the saw. If the saw that caused your injury was defective, you may be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer. Common grounds for these lawsuits include flawed design, poor manufacturing methods, inadequate testing, and failure to adequately warn of the dangers of the device.
If you have been hurt in a saw accident, the experienced New York construction injury lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer can help you hold the negligent party responsible for your lost income, medical care, permanent disability, and pain and suffering. Simply contact us online or call us directly at 212.465.8840 to schedule your free initial consultation.