Each year, the use of work tools and power tools results in nearly 400,000 emergency room visits. Many of these occur in the Spring when construction projects pick up and homeowners set to work on home repair projects.
The Most Dangerous Tools
Riding Lawn Mowers – Riding lawn mowers cause nearly 37,000 hospital visits a year. These machines can tip over or roll over body parts which can cause crushing injuries. Moreover, individuals who use them can be caught in the blades which can lead to severe lacerations or amputation of limbs.
Nail Guns – Nail guns cause 37,000 trips to the emergency room each year. The velocity at which they eject nails is sufficient to send sharp metal hurtling deep into bone and tissue.
Chain Saws – Each year, the use of chainsaws leads to 36,000 visits to emergency rooms. Chainsaw cuts can result in deep lacerations, limb amputation, and severe loss of blood. Other severe trauma can be caused when the chain binds and snaps, or when the chainsaw grabs objects while cutting and launches them towards the user.
Table Saws/Circular Saws – Table saws cause 29,000 trips to the ER each year, while circular saws cause a further 10,600 visits. These injuries can be caused when users get caught within the spinning blade, when a defective blade comes loose and strikes the operator, or when objects being cut are ejected from the saw and towards the operator.
Drills – Power drills are responsible for an average of 5,800 trips to the emergency room. Drill bits can puncture skin, or if they snap, eject sharp shards of metal deep into soft tissues.
Air Compressors – Air compression devices cause 2,400 injuries per year. Many of these occur when regulators fail and the pressure exceeds the safe operating limits of the compressed air tool. This can cause the tool to malfunction and injure the operator.
Power Cords – Completing spring projects often means using power cords to do the job. Each year, power cords lead to 4,000 trips to the ER. Most of these visits stem from users tripping over the cord and suffering fractures, broken bones, lacerations, etc. Additionally, over 3,300 residential fires are caused by malfunctioning power cords.
The Dirty Dangers of Spring Cleaning
In addition to the dangers posed by operating tools, there are certain spring cleaning activities that present a considerable risk of injury or death. These include:
Falls from Height – Nearly 40% of fatalities in construction are the result of slips and falls from height. Overall, nearly 30% of fall-related fatalities are the result of falls from roofs. Repairing shingles, replacing trim, or cleaning gutters all have the potential to lead to a fatal fall.
Tripping Over Objects – Individuals can trip over saws, workbenches, wheelbarrows, and other obstructions. The risk of tripping increases if inclement weather including snow, rain, or ice are present. People who lose their footing can suffer sprains, strains, concussions, contusions, fractures, or lacerations.
Pesticide Exposure – Each year, an average of 20,000 people are injured from pesticide exposure. These exposures lead to dozens of deaths each year. Toxic exposure can occur when pesticides are accidentally ingested or when they are released within closed spaces without proper ventilation.
Assigning Liability for Injuries
Assigning liability for an injury or death requires determining the chain of events leading up to the accident. Depending on the circumstances, the following may be liable by a Chicago personal injury lawyer for causing the injury or death:
The Equipment Manufacturer – Manufacturers may be held liable for design defects, manufacturing defects, or the use of substandard materials that make the tool unsafe for operation. People who have been injured may pursue a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer or distributor of defective tools.
The Property Owner – Property owners may be held liable for personal injuries or deaths under the doctrine of premises liability. In Illinois, property owners are responsible for mitigating and eliminating hazards on their property so that they won’t cause injuries.
The Employer – Individuals who are injured while performing work for an employer can file for workers’ compensation and may pursue a liability lawsuit against their employer. An employer may be liable if they provide defective tools, inadequate training, or fail to provide the appropriate protective equipment to the worker.
Third Parties – Third parties who interfere with the safe operation of tools or the performance of spring cleaning tasks can be held liable for their actions. Such examples include deliberately damaging tools or creating trip and fall hazards to “get a laugh.” Another party that may be held liable are tool repair services who fail to properly repair and deliver tools in working condition.
When a person is injured by tools or actions associated with spring cleaning projects, they may pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, damage to property, loss of limb, etc.