Woman Suffers Serious Injuries From Defective Power Tool


Engineering Expert WitnessThis case involves a woman in Kansas who seriously injured her hand while using a circular saw. At the time of the incident in question, the woman was using the saw in her garage, where she frequently used woodworking tools to manufacture wooden furniture. On the date of the incident in question, the woman was cutting a piece of wood with the saw when, suddenly, the saw kicked back. At the same time, the safety guard that had been covering the blade broke apart and came off. As a result, the blade was able to make contact with the woman’s hand, causing serious injuries including the loss of two fingers.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please briefly describe your experience with the design and safety of circular saws.
  • 2. What types of safety mechanisms are put in place in saws to prevent such incidents from occurring?

Expert Witness Response E-112905

I was exclusively designing professional Saws for a major power tool manufacturer for several years. Prior to this, I was part of a team that was designing miter saws and table saws and was closely involved with designing both products. I am also a skilled user of power saws, having completed many construction projects using them. I also led teams that designed professional saws for a major power tool manufacturers. I am very familiar with the common safety equipment on power saws, the regulatory requirements around such equipment, and the common limitation of such equipment when a saw is in use. The main piece of safety equipment is an articulating guard that opens as a cut is started. There are requirements about the strength of the guard and the amount of exposure that there can be to the blade. Guards have weaknesses in that they must open to make a cut. Also, users must remove or shift the position of the guards when changing blades, and some systems are more forgiving than others. In addition to the guard, the strength and size of the fence behind the material being cut is very important. Poorly supported material can kick back during operation. Finally there are usually some indications on the saw and in the manual that the operator is to keep hands a fixed distance away from the blade at all times.

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