Learn about your rights to workers’ comp benefits after an accident with a saw or other sharp equipment
Power tools have revolutionized the way we work, enabling us to accomplish tasks more efficiently and with greater precision. However, along with the benefits of power tools come the risks of workplace injuries, particularly for workers who use these tools frequently.
In Arizona, where many industries rely on power tools for their day-to-day operations, workers are at a heightened risk of workplace accidents and injuries, even with precautions taken.
In fact, according to the National Consumer League (NCL), more than 40,000 saw accidents occur every year in the U.S. that are serious enough to require medical attention at emergency rooms, and over 4,000 of these injuries result in amputations.
Fortunately, most Arizona workers who suffer a work-related injury or illness qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, which cover medical expenses and lost wages while they’re unable to work.
Common saws and other sharp tools that pose a danger to workers
Workers in industries that regularly use saws and other sharp tools face the risk of severe injuries or even fatalities every time they handle those tools. Tools that pose some of the highest risks include the following:
- Hedge trimmers
- Circular saws
- Pneumatic nail guns
- Cordless drills
- Table saws
- Powder-actuated nail guns
- Miter saws
- Wood-turning lathes
- Angle grinders
In the news:
On-the-job saw accident causes serious injury
In April 2022, Keith Matheson, a freelance contractor, was working with a circular saw on a job site at a school when he suddenly realized that his clothing was caught in the machine. His arm was pulled in and severed within moments.
Matheson said he initially felt no pain even though it looked like a war scene as his arm was left a mere stump. He was bleeding profusely when school staff rushed to his side to provide assistance while they waited for an ambulance to arrive. One staff member, who was previously a nurse, applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. Matheson credits her with saving his life.
Although Matheson’s arm was severed in the accident, he was able to keep it thanks to extensive plastic surgery. The doctors placed plates and screws in his forearm and restored the blood vessels to ensure the limb would survive.
Jobs that frequently require workers to use saws and other sharp tools
Some jobs require frequent use of saws and other such tools, putting workers at an increased risk of injury. Workers who most frequently suffer accidents involving these types of tools include:
Common injuries that result from accidents with saws and sharp tools
Workers who use saws and other sharp objects face certain types of injuries if an accident occurs. The following are the most common injuries:
In the worst-case scenarios, injuries from saws and other sharp tools lead to fatal injuries and wrongful deaths.
What are the most common causes of saw accidents at work?
Power saw injuries at work can be caused by a variety of factors, and it’s important for workers and employers to be aware of these risks in order to prevent injuries. Some common causes of saw accidents at work include the following:
- Lack of training. Workers who aren’t properly trained in the use of saws and other power tools are at a greater risk of accidents and injuries.
- Improper use. Using a saw or other power tool in a way that it was not intended can increase the risk of accidents, such as cutting at the wrong angle or using a blade that is not designed for the material being cut.
- Poor maintenance. Saws that are not properly maintained can malfunction, increasing the risk of accidents.
- Lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). Workers who don’t wear proper PPE, such as eye and ear protection, are at a greater risk of injury from saw accidents.
- Fatigue. Workers who are fatigued are more prone to accidents and injuries, including saw accidents.
- Distractions. Distractions, such as being interrupted while using a saw, greatly increase the risk of accidents.
By identifying these common causes of saw accidents and taking steps to prevent them, workers and employers can help reduce the risk of injuries in the workplace.
Most injured workers cannot sue and must go through the Arizona workers’ comp system (which is an “exclusive remedy”), but there are a few rare exceptions…
Arizona workers’ compensation benefits
Workers who suffer injuries from accidents with saws and other sharp tools have a right to file for workers’ compensation.
Most Arizona employers with 1 or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover workers who are injured on the job.
Workers are eligible as long as they’re full- or part-time employees and not independent contractors.
A worker may also be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits if an existing injury is aggravated by an accident related to their job.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means that in most cases, workers are eligible to file claims even if they were responsible for the accident that caused their injuries.
The following benefits are available to injured Arizona workers:
- Medical expenses. This includes all necessary medical treatment, including doctor appointments, surgeries, hospital stays, medication and rehabilitation.
- Lost wages. If an injury prevents you from working or only permits you to work in a reduced capacity, you’re entitled to benefits for lost wages, which are typically two-thirds of your average weekly wage.
- Death benefits. If a work injury results in your death, your dependents are entitled to benefits, including money for funeral expenses and lost wages.
Can I get workers’ comp benefits and file a personal injury claim against a third party?
If a third party is at fault for your work accident (someone other than your employer), it’s possible to file a lawsuit against that party and also collect workers’ comp benefits. For example, if the tool had a manufacturing defect, a third party lawsuit can be filed against the product manufacturer.
Additionally, when you file a third party lawsuit, you may be entitled to additional compensation for pain and suffering, which is not recoverable in a workers’ comp claim. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you identify all potentially negligent parties and get you maximum compensation for your injuries.
How to file a workers’ compensation claim in Arizona
Workers injured by sharp equipment on the job in Arizona who wish to file workers’ compensation claims must take the following steps:
- Seek medical care as soon as possible. This is an important step because it provides documentation that your injury or illness was job-related.
- Notify your employer. This should be done as soon as possible and preferably in writing. Your employer is then required to notify the Industrial Commission of Arizona and their workers’ comp insurance carrier of your injury within 10 days.
- File a claim. You must complete the appropriate forms and file them with the Industrial Commission of Arizona within 1 year of the date of your injury.
- Contact an attorney. If your claim is denied or you need help with any step of the process, contact a work injury attorney to ensure your rights are protected.
Contact an Arizona workers’ compensation attorney
Job-related injuries involving saws and other sharp objects or power tools can be devastating. If you suffered a work-related accident and sustained injuries, take immediate action to obtain the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.
If you live in Arizona and have been injured at work, our work injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski are here to help. We specialize in workers’ comp cases and are proud to have been helping injured Arizona workers recover the compensation they deserve for more than 45 years.