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Lack of safety feature on saws leads to worker injuries

In every job there are a variety of ways in which a worker could be injured. For construction workers in North Carolina, injuries may be incurred while working with power tools such as saws. All too often workers suffer serious lacerations or even amputations of fingers when something goes wrong while cutting a piece of wood. When this happens, it is possible that the worker will seek benefits via a workers' compensation claim.

To help reduce the number of workers’ compensation claims filed, many employers take action to improve workplace safety. In the case of carpenters or those working in construction that could involve using tools that are equip with safety features. Because individuals using table saws lose a total of 4,000 fingers each year, employers may want to consider purchasing saws equipped with flesh-detection technology. A part of saws made by at least one manufacturer, StopSaw, the technology stops the saw blade from spinning as soon as it comes into contact with anything the consistency of flesh.

The device works by sending a weak current of electricity through the blade of the saw. This current is absorbed by flesh when it comes into contact with the blade, lowering the current in the blade. This change triggers a spring that applies a brake to the blade, stopping it. In addition, it also causes the blade to be retracted below the table.

Considering the positive impact this technology could have on accidents at construction sites, many may be surprised that saws employing it are not widely used. While approximately 500,000 table saws are sold throughout the nation each year, to date only around 40,000 saws with this technology, marketed under the name StopSaw, have been sold. While there are likely many reasons for this, the fact that such safety standards are not required as well as a higher price tag, are probably two reasons. Because of the long term impact such injuries can have on the life of an injured person, many not feel that these are not good reasons.

Source: Mother Jones, "Saws Cut Off 4,000 Fingers a Year. This Gadget Could Fix That." Myron Levin, May 16, 2013

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