All Replies on Cabinetry firm fined $50K in amputation

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View Philip's profile

Cabinetry firm fined $50K in amputation

by Philip
posted 05-10-2011 06:35 PM

21 replies so far

View MrWoodworker's profile


65 posts in 2622 days

#1 posted 05-10-2011 07:32 PM

It’s fairly possible that the employer was negligent by not enforcing the use of the existing safety equipment. If there was a document-able history of such, then yes, the fine is warranted. I worked on a job site once where it seemed to be a badge of honor to flaunt all possible safety precautions. I talked to some of the workers from the offending company about it, and the all agreed it was just the way they did things.

Yes those employees chose every day to ignore safety measures (with the knowledge of the employer), but I assure you when an accident happens, the finger (or stub) will point squarely at the employer.


View C_PLUS_Woodworker's profile


601 posts in 2934 days

#2 posted 05-10-2011 07:37 PM

For $50K, my guess is that the company found it cheaper to plead, pay and get it over with….......than fighting.

Also, I would imagine that the company’s insurance company had more than a little say in how to resolve this issue.

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2539 posts in 3984 days

#3 posted 05-10-2011 07:41 PM

If the saw was a Saw Stop, that would have prevented this catastrophe…


View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3142 days

#4 posted 05-10-2011 08:19 PM

brad_Nailer even the sawstop safty can be manuel overruled
anytime you want …. don´t misunderstand me I´m for the safty tecnic
all the way but even here in Denmark where there is so much control
and safty regulations you wont believe it
there always some workers who find a way around it just to make 50 cent more in an hour
they even teach new people how to do it even before they have used the maschinery one second
and therefor don´t know a damm thing of how it suposed to be operated and sound
I know of a guy who lost half of a hand in a shaper under two minuts after he had started to work
the first day at the job and I know if the other coworkers had learned him the right way
of using the mashine he cuoldn´t have been hurt
no they overruled the buildin safty even though the boss had said they wuold get fired if he saw it once more time …... ten men was fired that day becourse of one stupid accident


View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 2987 days

#5 posted 05-11-2011 07:51 AM

i think these big facilities will laugh at you if you suggest a sawstop to them, the safety feature is great but the saw itself is of an obsolete design. a serious cabinet production facility of that size is probably not gonna use a tablesaw design that hasn’t changed in the past 50 years, but instead use european sliding panelsaws for the sake of productivity and comfort.

european saws have alot of safety features that are enforced by law in europe, but for certain operations (wich are usually forbidden by the constructors) you need to dismantle some safety features like the riving knife and such.
chances are that they permanently removed them out of lazyness and then accidents happen. probably not so much the users fault, the upper chiefs would have known about this and allowed it. somehow taking the responsability of letting their employees work in unreasonably dangerous conditions.

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3217 days

#6 posted 05-11-2011 08:40 AM

At the company I work at real talent is hard to come by, procedures,rules, and safety issues are
easily side tracked by the employee, and overlooked or not seen by management intentionally.
Get the job out the door I guess is a general rule of thumb. Employers have to keep the cost down,
employees have to pump out the jobs, and when all is said and done everyone from the CEO to
the floor sweeper is just tired and frustrated.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3024 days

#7 posted 05-11-2011 02:00 PM

I don’t think the owners of the company should have paid that fine ! They provided the equipment that “once ” had the safety equipment needed. The “Workers” took that safety device off. Second: the superviser should not have to pay a fine for trying to babysit “STUPID PEOPLE”, he was not the one that hired the employee, human resourses did, Did they pay anything. ? I think our society is relying on insurance too much. In this case the responsibility is on the employee that had the “Accident”. Trusting technology to be safe is a false sense of security, if you are confident that “SAW STOP” will save your fingers, STICK them in the blade and see what happens.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 2717 days

#8 posted 05-11-2011 03:01 PM

I’m so confused about why so many of you dislike Saw Stop? Don’t you want to be safe?

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View Ocelot's profile


1981 posts in 2665 days

#9 posted 05-11-2011 03:52 PM

I love the idea of SawStop, but I don’t (yet) own one. But the problem is that the table saw is not the only machine in the shop. When are the SawStop people going to figure out how to do their magic on a joiner or a bandsaw or a miter saw?

There’s a fellow working here who lost a few fingertips on a bandsaw. Another friend and co-worker of mine sawed his watch in two with a miter saw. Lots of blood, but the watch saved his arm. He’s a very fortunate fellow.

We need more, not less, of the safety gear. Miter saws should come equipped with some pretty good clamping stuff so that we don’t have to hold the workpiece, and it should be made easier to use than holding the workpiece. The way to go is get our hands and arms and fingers out of the way. Yeah, it’s going to cost more, but it’s worth it.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3201 days

#10 posted 05-11-2011 05:58 PM

Oh, goody.

We get to re-live the SawStop debate, again ;-)

-- -- Neil

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3297 days

#11 posted 05-11-2011 06:27 PM

I’ll get the popcorn…..time for another raucus debate?

I just wanted to chime in on the case….since it is Canadian law…I am not that familiar with….but for US…this would also happen….OSHA will fine any employer that has such a traumatic injury as it is felt that all accidents are preventable using proper safety techniques….even if the worker attempts to circumvent….employers get the shaft pretty much every time.

I knew a tree company where the worker was unfamiliar with the chipper shredder (he was cautioned to stay away from it)....he didn’t…and was seriously injured (arm amputated – he passed away in the hospital)....the worker was found to be 70% at fault (in a wrongful death suit brought by the parents)...but the employer was still put out of business by fines and lawsuits….the bottom line – your workers must be trained and made to follow all safety requirements….if they don’t – Fire them! as this is the only protection available….sad but true.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View Keith Fenton's profile

Keith Fenton

328 posts in 2947 days

#12 posted 05-11-2011 06:42 PM

Every accident isn’t preventable… bottom line…you can’t fix stupid. If this had been the guy’s first safety offense working for this employer, the employer would have had no way of knowing that the guy was going to bypass safety equipment or use equipment he wasn’t trained for. Oh well Sue ‘em all.

-- Scroll saw patterns @

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 2987 days

#13 posted 05-11-2011 07:03 PM

in an ideal world you would get fired for not respecting safety measures, but in reality what i have seen so far is the opposite. when you get a job in a woodworking business, then you are not gonna start by telling your boss “okay, i refuse to use your tablesaw, your shaper and bandsaw because they are old and don’t have modern protections”
that’s a good way of losing your job, so you either quit by yourself or do as everybody else and shut up about it.

and when the tools are equipped with safety features, then i don’t see why the user would take the time to remove them before operating the machine, just for fun?
it’s either that the safety was permanently removed and everybody was aware, or either that the task required them to be removed. in both cases it’s mainly the employers fault

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3769 days

#14 posted 05-11-2011 07:07 PM

Bottom line is you (as the company) are held responsible for whatever someone does on the shop floor.

Supervisors… are supposed to supervise, and not allow running without guards and such. Not saying I don’t take guard off in my home shop myself.

Basically they say the supervisor should have seen and stopped it. And/Or they should have documented the employee was clueless….doesn’t follow the safety rules and ultimately fired them.

If you push people to cut corners – and something goes sour – you don’t get to in the same breath say it was all the employees fault.

I have never seen a cabinet company that didn’t have Greedo’s obsolete tablesaw there.

Certainly they also had large panel saws as well – but many woud use the big saws to knock down goods to managable pieces, then use the table saw for custom work, and fitting, making dado’s and even some moulding heads.
So Saw Stop would not be laughed out of there.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3163 days

#15 posted 05-11-2011 07:22 PM

As an alternative to the usual debates, it would be more interesting to discuss practical ways of performing the intended operation that would minimize the risk of the type of injury that occured. While it may be true that “every accident isn’t preventable”, it may also be true that these constitue a tiny fraction of the accidents that do occur.

While it might not be the employer’s “fault”, the employer has more control over the working environment than any other party. Even “smart” people will do a bone-headed thing from time to time (or is that just me?), but it IS possible to engineer the work environment to minimize the damage from random acts of stupidity.

-- Greg D.

View jeepturner's profile


939 posts in 2819 days

#16 posted 05-11-2011 07:56 PM

The amputation took place in November 2009, and the company plead guilty earlier this month. It looks like the company and the regulatory adjacency had plenty of time to come up with the correct number. I don’t think that fifty grand Canadian Dollars is going to put this company out of business, but it will make them take a long look at their safety processes. I don’t know how the law works in Canada, but I am fairly happy with the way it works in the states. Of course the law isn’t there to make everyone happy, and there will always be someone who gets it in the shorts, but the alternative to laws is no alternative.
You asked should a company be responsible for a workers “stupidity”, well in a word, yes. The company hired the worker, and that is one of the risks of having people working for you. In the states, as in Canada, managers are held to a higher level of accountability, and one of the risks of becoming a manager is that you can be held personally responsible for those you manage.

-- Mel,

View Pop's profile


427 posts in 3973 days

#17 posted 05-12-2011 04:18 AM

OH YEA NBeener, We’re off to the races yet again.

HERE IS THE ANSWER ! You buy your SawStop and I’ll buy my Shop Fox.

-- One who works with his hands is a laborer, his hands & head A craftsman, his hands, head & heart a artist

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3165 posts in 3136 days

#18 posted 05-18-2011 03:32 AM

The shops that play shut-eye chaperone to safety issues need to be bled out of existence by fines. The one thing any company has that can make or break it is their people. I work for a large corporation, and we have to watch safety videos about cleaning up spills, like water. We’ve become such a lazy and litigious society- don’t care where we lay our stuff, but sue at the drop of a hat if someone else leaves something where we can be hurt by it, even if we see it laying there and ignore it. European law doesn’t even allow people to sue if they injure themselves on a product as a result of their own stupidity or carelessness. As it should be. I slipped using an X-Acto knife and punctured my wrist. But I didn’t sue. Why should I, I did it to myself!

Back to the case in point, the Canadian “OSHA” probably found fault with what happened, and fined the company. A determination was made that a supervisor was also at fault. Disclaimer: I’m basing this on my own experience with what people do in a stupid way, and I’m not going to entertain counterarguments about abusive government inspectors, etc.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View terry603's profile


320 posts in 2940 days

#19 posted 05-18-2011 04:17 AM

yup,companies are always responsible for employess accidents. even if not the companies fault. they are on the property,they are responsible.

-- may not always be right,but,never in doubt.

View Razorbak91313's profile


89 posts in 2671 days

#20 posted 05-26-2011 03:24 AM

my 2 cents:
1) We don’t know how long the guy was with the company – if he had only been there a few weeks there may not have been a chance to build up a safety record history for the guy so we don’t know if he was just careless, lazy or what have you.
2) Some of the craziest things can be overlooked by people and management. Maybe the guard and other safety features had been removed during a mantenance cycle and someone forgot to put them back on.

Without more details of exactly what happened and a work history of the person, then it is all just guesses.

-- Turning good wood into even better wood jewelry.

View bunkie's profile


412 posts in 3173 days

#21 posted 05-26-2011 04:38 AM

I think Deke makes a really good point. I know from my own personal mistakes that even then it’s often hard to see exactly what went wrong. It’s easy to be judgemental, it’s harder to accept that we just don’t know everything.

I’m of two minds about these threads that are about specific safety incidents. I appreciate the opportunity to be reminded how dangerous our tools can be. However, there’s more than a little bit of flame-baiting going on in some cases.

I’m an amateur musician who has belonged to a number of jam clubs (where we get together with others to play). One of these clubs had a rule that under no circumstances were you allowed to play ‘Sympathy for the Devil’. Yes, it was arbitrary, but I never questioned the wisdom of having a social mechanism designed to make life a little less contentious for all involved. Perhaps it’s time for us to self-police the endless debates about SawStop that have nothing to do with its qualifications as a saw.

-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

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