Each year, there are more than 40,000 saw-related injuries. Workers in the woodworking manufacturing industry encounter daily hazards, including the risks of deep cuts or amputated fingers. Often, injuries occur because of lack of safety training or enforcement of safe practices.
Doolittle Trailer Manufacturing is a manufacturer of more than 180 trailer models, including utility, dump, deckover, cargo and enclosed trailers. Some models use a large amount of plywood, which requires employees to cut paneling throughout the day. Several serious incidents made them realize they needed to take action to improve table saw safety.
“Because we do get wrapped up in the business of building trailers every day… you forget about the safety aspect of the job,” Chuck Frank, owner of Doolittle, said. “But we had a couple bad years. It kind of woke us up and made us realize that we really needed to focus on safety as much as our productions.”
After two incidents in which employees’ fingers were cut by a table saw blade, Chuck applied for and received a safety grant from Missouri Employers Mutual to purchase a SawStop. A SawStop is table saw safety technology that detects when skin meets the blade. When the saw detects contact, the brake activates in less than five milliseconds, powering the motor off. After contact triggers the saw’s brake activation, it requires a manual reset. This helps prevent further injury.
Table saw safety success
Since implementing the new SawStop, Doolittle Trailer Manufacturing has not had any table saw incidents. The equipment has saved several employees from experiencing life-changing injuries, so Chuck believes the saws have paid for themselves. In fact, they’ve invested in a second SawStop in another part of the facility.
“I think it’s one of the best things that we’ve done as far as safety features, because it had been a problem more than once in the past,” Chuck said. “Now we haven’t had any incidents since we installed these, so it’s nice to know that we have a back-up plan in place.”
In addition to implementing the new equipment, Doolittle has placed a stronger emphasis on workplace safety in general. Now, safety committees meet regularly, allowing safety to remain at the forefront of all business operations.
“We were just a little mom-and-pop shop down in a two-car garage in Jefferson City, and now we’ve come to well over a hundred thousand square feet and 140 employees,” Chuck said. “We’ve made some big strides.”
Do you see room for improvement in your workplace safety program? Does your equipment need updates or repairs? Check out how Mid America Precast improved safety by investing in new equipment.