Woodworking is an integral and important part of building and construction activity. However, a lot of machinery that is used in woodworking can be dangerous to operate and pose a high risk of accidents that could result in disabling injuries. Statistics show that the rate of accidents in the woodworking industry is high.
If you have suffered a woodworking injury on the job, you may be able to seek workers' compensation benefits through your employer. However, especially in woodworking accidents, there may be parties other than your employer who can be held financially responsible for the injuries and damages caused. In this article, we'll take a look at the frequency at which these types of woodworking accidents occur and how injured workers can seek compensation for their losses.
Woodworking Accidents and Injuries
Each year, U.S. hospitals see thousands of workers with injuries caused by woodworking tools land in their emergency rooms. The types of injuries depend on the nature of the incident and the location of the injury. The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) published the most recent statistics available for woodworking injuries.
The database took information from hospitals around the country. Therefore, the numbers may skew lower considering how many don't go to the emergency department for a wound that might not be serious or life threatening. The numbers also do not take into consideration "near miss" incidents that many woodworkers encounter. The statistics also don't include injuries that are linked to using woodshop machinery such as back or neck injuries.
Here are some of the most significant statistics from the NEISS database:
Table Saws: These tools, which are omnipresent in construction sites and woodshops, are responsible for the most number of injuries involving woodworking – 39,750 injuries annually. The National Institutes of Health also estimates that there are more than 30,000 table saw injuries in the U.S. annually. Fingers and hands are the body parts most frequently injured by table saws. The medical costs of treating injuries caused by table saws top $2 billion annually.
Nail Guns: Nail guns that malfunction or are defective can misfire sending nails firing in all directions. There have been reports of impalement, puncture wounds, and facial injuries among others as a result of faulty or malfunctioning nail guns.
Jointers, planers, shapers and sanders: These types of tools and equipment account for nearly 10,930 injuries annually. While miter saws are considered relatively easier to use, they may not be as safe. Accidents and injuries could occur if they are not set up properly on a bench or table. An accident could cause lacerations.
Band saws: More than 3,500 woodworking injuries each year are caused by band saws. Regulations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require that band saws have guards to protect workers against injuries. Band saws should be properly guarded and the blades should also be adequately guarded. A band saw's wheels should also be enclosed in order to prevent injuries. In addition, these saws must have tension control devices to prevent injuries that are caused by the saw breaking due to blade tension.
Radial arm saw: Radial saws are not used as much in woodworking any more and have been more or less replaced by miter saws. However, they are still used and result in hundreds of injuries each year. Statistics show about 350 band saw injuries each year.
Common Woodworking Injuries
Some of the most common injuries suffered in woodworking accidents include:
- Limb or finger amputations: The most frequently reported amputations include hands and fingertips.
- Cuts or lacerations: A laceration or cut, if deep, could injure muscles, tendons or even cause nerve damage that could lead to long-term consequences.
- Brain injuries: A blow to the head or a slip-trip-and-fall incident could result in traumatic brain injuries.
- Back and neck injuries: These could also result in long-term disabilities and conditions such as chronic pain.
- Eye injuries: Flying objects and other debris in the air could cause serious eye injuries that could even result in partial or complete vision loss.
- Electrical injuries: Because carpenters work with power tools, they face the risk of electrical injuries or electrocution.
Compensation for Woodworking Accidents
When it comes to woodworking accidents, workers may lose their ability to return to their jobs right away. Depending on the nature and severity of the injuries, workers may suffer temporary or even permanent disabilities especially when amputations are involved. These injuries not only affect workers, but also their families because these incidents could stop income flow for an entire family. When workers are permanently disabled, they will require ongoing benefits.
California's workers' comp system offers the following benefits to injured workers:
Medical expenses: Workers' comp will typically cover all expenses relating to your medical care including surgeries, hospitalization and rehabilitation costs.
Lost wages: Workers' compensation also covers a portion of lost income for workers.
Temporary and permanent disability benefits: The type of benefits will depend on whether you've suffered an injury that keeps you from returning to work in the short term or permanently.
Supplemental job displacement benefit: This is typically a voucher that helps workers pay for education-related retraining or to enhance their job skills at a California public school.
In addition to workers' comp benefits, workers who are injured in woodworking accidents may also be able to file a third-party lawsuit, which is a personal injury lawsuit against a party other than the employer. This is separate from your workers' comp claim and typically includes damages for lost earning capacity and pain and suffering, which are not covered under workers' comp.
For example, if you have been injured by a defective table saw, in addition to seeking workers' comp benefits, you may also be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the defective saw. You can maximize your compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit in addition to your workers' comp claim.
The experienced job injury lawyers at Greenberg and Ruby can help you understand how to navigate the system and understand your options in such cases. We know how devastating workplace injury can be for workers and their families from a physical, financial and emotional perspective. If you have suffered a woodworking injury, call us today for a free and comprehensive consultation.