Construction Worker Seriously Injured by Circular Saw

Michael Talve, CEO

Written by
— Updated on June 30, 2017

This case involves a construction worker who was injured while using a circular saw on a job site. The plaintiff’s company was contracted by a suburban homeowner to build a large, second-floor deck at a private residence. The plaintiff was tasked with receiving and hammering in the pieces of decking from the others who were cutting the wood for him. The cutting was occurring on the ground level. The plaintiff had been working for the construction company for under two months and was on his second, large-scale project. Also, as his experience was mostly in measurements and helping to place final pieces (after they had been cut), he had no professional experience with the circular saw. While he constructed the deck, located on the second floor of the residence, the plaintiff was handed three pieces of wood which did not fit into the designated areas. Instead of asking for the pieces back to be cut at ground level, the foreman suggested that the plaintiff use the circular saw located near him to cut the pieces. The plaintiff attempted to cut the pieces, but there was no flat surface to rest the wood securely. According to the plaintiff, he struggled to stabilize the wood, and, as a result, he sliced off his index, middle, and ring fingers on his left hand.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Should the plaintiff have been instructed to cut the pieces of wood without a flat surface to level the piece?

Expert Witness Response

Construction jobs are inherently dangerous and injuries do occur. Sometimes this is due to product deficiencies, while other times it is due to user error. I have extensive experience working with construction-related injuries, specifically ones related to saws. The standard of care in this type of case is the watchfulness, attention, caution, and prudence that a reasonable person in the circumstances would exercise. Since the plaintiff was new to using this type of equipment, it is not reasonable to assume he would know how to properly and safely operate the equipment on his own. Further, because the plaintiff was assembling a structure at a height, there is increased risk. The foreman should have instructed the plaintiff to pass the pieces back down to the workers responsible for cutting the wood, and then cut it that way. By asking the plaintiff to cut wood, in a circumstance when he had little professional experience doing so, on a surface that was not appropriate for using a dangerous tool is unreasonable. Therefore, the plaintiff should not have been instructed to cut the wood without a flat surface to work on.

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