Dangers of Power Cutting Tools

By Neil Kalra

Power saws pose the greatest danger – percentage wise – of injury to construction workers. They are used to cut a variety of materials such as wood, metal and masonry. Whether working with a table saw, chainsaw, or handheld power saw, these dangerously powerful tools can cause devastating cutting blade accidents which can, in-turn, produce some of the most gruesome construction injuries imaginable: lacerations, amputations, and even death.

Although statistical data differs from study to study, cuts and lacerations consistently rank as the second or third most frequent workplace injury (behind falls). Almost ONE THIRD of all workplace injuries involve cuts or lacerations; with around seven out of every 10 cutting injuries affecting hands or fingers. Common cutting tool injuries involve:

  • Deep lacerations requiring medical attention, (sutures)

  • Lacerations involving nerve and/or tendon damage (micro surgery)

  • Amputations

Typical hazards/causes of cuts and lacerations:

Improper training or unfamiliarity with the cutting tool is far-and-away the greatest cause of power saw injuries. Rushing, taking “short-cuts,” or not following safety procedures come in a close second. Other causes include:

  • Lack of established safety procedures

  • Failure to wear cut-resistant gloves or wearing improper gloves for job

  • Contact with metal items when cutting wood such as nails, metal stock or burrs

  • Not accounting for dull cutting blades, pinch points, chain and sprocket variances, conveyor belt speeds, rotating parts, worn or poorly maintained motors, presses, or lathes (you should always check your equipment before beginning any cutting job)

  • Using the wrong cutting tool for the job (another “rushing” hazard)

  • Tools in poor condition

  • Missing or improperly adjusted safety guards

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and Good Cutting Safety Habits

Using the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) can prevent or lessen the severity of injuries to workers using powered cutting tools. Employers must ensure that PPE is in good working condition prior to starting work. And safety-conscious workers closely inspect their PPE every time before using it. This includes:

  • Comfortably fitting and the right size of eye/face protection such as safety glasses

  • The right glove for the job. Comfort is most important because if gloves are not comfortable, workers probably won’t wear them.

  • Use the proper tool for the job and closely inspect it before use.

  • Keep work area clear.

  • Keep the item you are cutting secured; don’t hold the item you are cutting with your hand!

  • Use a sharp blade and safely replace/store dull blades.

  • When cutting, stand with weight evenly distributed.

  • Make sure the path of the cut is clear, and keep the non-cutting hand well away from the saw’s path.

  • When cutting thick material, use several passes of the blade; applying slightly more downward pressure with each pass.

  • Maintain proper storage or use a separate drawer for sharp cutting tools.

Develop an effective injury prevention plan to help eliminate cutting blade injuries from your workplace. The past few years, because of the growth in these safety plans, the number of reported cuts and lacerations has begun a downward trend. And as more construction contractors and their workers embrace efficient, not-rushed working practices, the number of cutting blade injuries will continue to shrink.

Whether you were, or a family member was, injured due to a construction, car, commercial vehicle, or semi-truck accident; you may be entitled to full benefits and compensation. Know your rights and get the answers you deserve.

The attorneys at Kalra Law Firm are dedicated to getting construction accident victims the compensation they deserve. Call our office now to speak with one of our experienced construction accident lawyers to represent you in your case. We offer a free initial consultation and will not charge unless we win your case. If you have any questions about your construction accident, call our New York City and Queens Construction accident lawyers today at (718) 897-2211. www.unionlawyer.com

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