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Table Saw Injuries in Massachusetts

1284422_workshopIn Massachusetts, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you are injured on the job. These benefits usually include compensation for medical expenses, disability payments, 60% of your average income (if you were not disabled), permanent disfigurement, loss of function, vocational retraining as well as death benefits if a worker was killed. You cannot be discriminated against for reporting a work injury and asking for benefits.

A Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) report stated that falls from construction sites killed more Massachusetts construction workers than any other type of work accident from 2007-2011. However, construction accidents in general, including table saw injuries, are very common in Massachusetts. Tragically, many table saw injuries are preventable.

The table saw industry’s refusal to take steps to protect those who use its tools received attention from the media recently. Every year, table saws injure over 67,000 workers and hobbyist carpenters across the nation. These injuries are devastating, leading to over 33,000 ER visits plus 4,000 amputations. Overall, society is hit with $2.3 billion in costs as a result of table saw accidents, including medical bills and lost wages. In certain states you can also recover pain and suffering as part of a workers’ compensation settlement, but not in Massachusetts.

An invention by a company called Saw Stop suggests that the power tools industry is reluctant to change and in failing to change is to blame for all of these injuries. Saw Stop makes saws with skin-sensing technology. The technology can prevent injuries from happening, but the power tool industry hasn’t elected to implement it on a widespread basis. Saw Stop has recorded 2000 finger saves since 2004—these are customer reports of accidents that were quite minor rather than disfiguring only because Saw Stop’s tools were used instead of conventional saws.

Asked to explain its resistance to Saw Stop, the power tool industry has claimed that the number of saw injuries is exaggerated and has suggested that the blade would be destroyed if Saw Stop’s skin-sensing technology were used while cutting materials like wet wood or metal. Power tool companies seem to have rejected technological safety advances and improvement because if a new way to prevent severe injuries became widespread, they would face a wave of liability lawsuits for accidents in which conventional saws were used. In other words, it would be bad for business.

Roughly 150 liability suits have been filed against power tool companies since the skin-sensing technology was introduced, suggesting that the power tools industry will have to make some significant technological changes against its will. This issue has particular resonance in Massachusetts because of the number of construction jobs in this state.

If you are hurt while using a table saw at work, you can receive workers’ compensation for your disfigurement, scarring or permanent loss of function. Permanent losses related to these body parts are all compensable: leg, foot, hand, back, neck, teeth, organs, sexual function, and eyesight, hearing, taste, smell. The amount of compensation due is calculated based upon the percentage loss of that body part. Similarly, the amount of compensation for disfigurement or scarring is determined by the location of the scar or disfigurement as well as its size and degree of discoloration. A table saw accident resulting in an amputation, for example, would be compensated more highly than a small scar.

If you have been injured at work, a workers’ compensation attorney can give you a better sense of what your claims are and the benefits for which you are eligible. He can also negotiate with an insurer and file a claim on your behalf. Call the  experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorneys at Kantrovitz & Associates for a free consultation at 617-367-0880 or contact us via our online form.

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