Non-SawStop table saw injury case
A manufacturing employee was ripping lumber on a table saw when he was interrupted. He amputated three fingers on his right hand. A supervisor and co-workers stabilized the injured employee, applied first aid, called for an ambulance, and located and iced the amputated fingers. The supervisor followed the ambulance to the hospital and stayed with the injured employee the balance of the day. The affected area of the company was shut down for the remainder of the day and employees were sent home while safety investigators researched the accident. When the investigation was done, a biohazard cleanup service was brought in to clean the saw and surrounding area. The company paid the injured employee full wage during the day of the injury.
OSHA staff visited the job site following the accident and levied fines related to the lack of machine guarding and other code violations at the site. The company was given three weeks to address the code violations, requiring the company to purchase new equipment to come into compliance. The safety manager also needed to conduct machine guarding and table saw safety retraining classes with applicable employees
Following a day of emergency surgery, the injured employee spent two additional days in the hospital and then was sent home. He returned to work four weeks later. During that time, a supervisor visited him twice at the hospital and twice at home during work hours. On returning to work, the employee was on a limited workload for two months and his supervisor estimated he performed at 60% of normal productivity. During the same two months, the injured employee was not at work five days due to follow-up surgeries, doctor visits, and physical therapy that occurred during work hours.
While the injured employee was on medical leave, overtime was necessary to keep up with the job schedule. Two employees each worked four additional hours per day during the medical leave period.
The supervisor, safety manager, and human resource manager each needed to complete administrative paperwork associated with the accident and manage outside agencies.
When the full set of insured and uninsured costs associated with the accident were totaled by the safety manager, he was surprised to find that uninsured costs exceeded insured costs. Those costs are outlined in the table below.
|Uninsured Costs||Insured Costs|
|Incident Costs (assist injured employee, ambulance, biohazard cleanup)||$1,210|
|Productivity Costs (overtime, site shutdown, doctor visits and therapy)||$15,230|
|Investigation Costs (OSHA fines, compliance costs, administration)||$40,684|
|Worker’s Comp Insurance Costs (premium increase over three years)||$45,000|
|Medical Costs (surgeons, hospital, supplies, pharmacy)||$69,825|
|Wage Loss Costs (wage compensation during recuperation)||$8,624|
|Loss of Use (worker’s compensation value of amputated fingers)||$18,000|
|TOTAL UNINSURED COSTS||$102,124|
|TOTAL INSURED COSTS||$96,449|
The example above averages the most common costs a medium or large company would incur due to a table saw accident. Companies may also experience these costs, which can significantly increase uninsured expenses:
- Attorney fees and settlement costs
- Permanent loss of a highly experienced employee
- Hiring and training a replacement employee
- Internal relocation or rescheduling a replacement employee
- Reduced productivity while a new employee comes up to speed
- Project fines or loss of contracts due to job delays
- Decreased employee moral (“my employer doesn’t care about my safety”)