Construction Safety Expert Witness Opines on Table Saw After Injury

Construction ExpertThis case involves an injury to a construction worker who was working on trim for a sliding door and adjacent windows. The project was delayed by three weeks, largely because of a delay in the delivery of certain tools. This included a table saw, a circular saw, a nail gun, and a drill. On the day in question, the foreman instructed the plaintiff to unbox the table saw and begin cutting the wood for the sliding door’s trim. The plaintiff unwrapped the saw, set it up, and began to measure and cut the wood. Unbeknownst to the plaintiff, the saw lacked multiple guards and a safety mechanism. These parts were contained in a separate part of the box (which included the instructions). As the plaintiff was familiar with previous models of the saw in question, he simply set up the saw and began cutting wood. After the first three pieces, the plaintiff slipped and sliced off three of his fingers. Because of the injury, he was unable to work for three months, and when he returned to his job, he was limited in what work he could perform.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Should the table saw in question have had a warning label on the saw indicating that particular safety mechanisms should be installed, and for a tool like this, what safety requirements should a manufacturer include when designing the device?

Expert Witness Response E-006898

Due to the function that the table saw serves within the construction and woodworking communities, many individuals have extensive experience with using the tool. As such, they are not as likely to review information in the instruction pamphlet and other items contained or packaged with it. Because of this, manufacturers and designers usually (by way of stickers) include warnings on the saw, the surface platform, and on the box indicating that parts may need to be assembled or placed on the saw for safety considerations. In some cases, the saw needs to be specifically adjusted to function without safety components. With newer saws, there are a number of design features that should be included, including an explicit indication that additional safety items need to be installed which are located in the box. Additionally, newer features like a magnetic feather board and automatic braking can be included to help reduce the risk of injury. For the saw in question, one should examine how the saw functioned without the safety features, if any warnings were provided on the saw (considering the safety items were not shipped on the saw), and other features that may have made the saw safer. Given the safety features placement with the instructions, however, additional measures should have been taken by the designers and manufacturers.


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