If you visit a construction site working with lumber, chances are you’ll see a table saw. For most construction employees, cutting boards with a table saw is a familiar and sometimes monotonous task. But it’s not hard to imagine how routine work, when it involves a spinning blade, can change another day on the job site to the day someone’s life changed forever.
In late 2018, an employee on a Scott Gann Construction site had one of those days. The employee, who had several years’ experience, was cutting exterior trim for a project with a tight deadline when he accidentally moved his index finger into the blade of the saw he was using.
Fortunately, Scott Gann, company president and Missouri Employers Mutual policyholder, had recently replaced their old table saws with new SawStop job site saws purchased with the help of an MEM safety grant.
Emergency stop instead of emergency room
Instead of causing a deep laceration, serious damage or even amputation, the SawStop immediately shut down upon coming into contact with the employee’s skin. “There was no panic; no trip to the ER,” said Gann. “There was no lost work time and most importantly, a young man still has all of his index finger.”
How does SawStop technology work? While in use, the safety system constantly monitors a small electrical signal. If the blade contacts skin, which is conductive, an emergency brake springs into the saw’s blade, stopping it in less than five milliseconds. Typically, users must replace the blade after the brake is activated, which takes about five minutes. After that, work can resume.
Work continued and deadline met
The kind of injury the employee avoided that day can have big consequences. In addition to the loss of a finger, it can sideline an injured employee for weeks or even months. According to MEM claim data, amputation injuries led to an average of 48 lost workdays. That can impact a project’s bottom line in fast-paced, seasonal industries like construction. “Having even one employee out because of a work-related injury can make things more difficult financially and make it hard to meet deadlines,” Gann explained.
In addition to lost time and productivity, this type of claim can incur costs upwards of $50,000. That can hurt a small policyholder’s e-mod – and consequently, increase their premium.
Thanks to this limb-saving technology, the employee went back to work unharmed, and Gann’s crew finished the project on time.
A small investment in safety can yield a large return. Find out how. >