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Claimant’s Use of Saw Violated Safety Rule

The Court of Appeals upholds a denial of workers’ comp benefits for a construction worker’s violation of a known safety rule when he failed to keep his hands away from a saw blade.

The evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to employer, supports the commission’s finding that claimant intentionally did violate a known safety rule by placing his left hand over a moving saw blade rotating between 5,000 to 5,800 RPMs.

The facts clearly prove that the requirement that a carpenter keep his hands away from the saw blade is a known safety rule. Company officials testified they instructed claimant on the proper use of the table saw, each specifically pointing out that a person using the table saw must never place his hands over or near the blade. Claimant admitted he was instructed to keep his hands away from the blade because of the serious injury that could result from contact with the blade. Although the facts were in dispute as to whether the claimant understood the rules as taught to him in English, the commission believed the testimony indicating claimant comprehended the instructions communicated to him in English.
We find sufficient evidence to support the commission finding that claimant intentionally violated a known safety rule. Claimant acknowledged he intentionally placed his hand over the spinning blade to hold down a piece of wood. He demonstrated to the commission how he positioned his left hand over the blade while reaching for the wood. He testified that he had cut four or five pieces of wood before receiving the injury to his hand, indicating this was not an isolated, inadvertent event. The commission found that hand placement, not use of the wrong type of saw, established the willful misconduct barring benefits.

Denial of benefits affirmed.

Gutierrez-Lazo v. Coburn & Clay Building Development Corp. (Frank) No. 2280-13-4, June 3, 2014; Workers’ Comp. Comm’n; John B. Delaney for appellant; John C. Duncan III for contractor; Joshua M. Wulf for Uninsured Employer’s Fund. VLW 014-7-202(UP), 10 pp.

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