Construction sites usually have a lot of heavy equipment and tools on hand – and just as many safety hazards. Because of the multiple risks, construction workers must observe safety guidelines and proper procedures to ensure injuries don’t happen.
But even if workers follow safety guidelines to the letter, certain equipment and tools remain dangerous to use. One such tool is the power saw, which can cut through flesh and bone as easily as it slices lumber.
Finger amputations are a constant risk when cutting tasks are involved. In fact, a study found that from 1997 to 2016, power saws were the leading cause of finger amputation injuries for Americans aged 15 and up.
Power saw accidents are frighteningly common. But fortunately, Virginia’s workers’ compensation laws outline specific benefits for those who lose their fingers during work.
Amputations and permanent partial loss
Under state law, workers who suffer finger amputation injuries are eligible for permanent partial loss benefits. The benefits they’re entitled to depend on the fingers lost, at the rate of 66 2/3% of the average weekly wage:
- Thumb: 60 weeks of compensation
- Index finger: 35 weeks
- Middle finger: 30 weeks
- Ring finger: 20 weeks
- Little finger: 15 weeks
Virginia also stipulates that injuries that result in the loss of the first phalanx (the tubular bones that make up the sections of a finger) are eligible for half the number of weeks for that corresponding finger. For instance, losing the first phalanx of a thumb means the worker receives 30 weeks of compensation.
However, the loss of more than one phalanx counts as a full loss for that finger for purposes of permanent partial loss benefits.
Notably, Virginia also limits benefits received for multiple finger losses. Workers can’t exceed the compensation provided for the loss of a hand, equivalent to 150 weeks.
Benefits can be canceled
Even if a worker loses multiple fingers in a work-related accident, employers and insurers can prematurely cut them off from benefits during the compensation period. This can happen for various reasons, such as reaching the compensation limit, or the insurer plans to close the case through a lump sum payment.
If this happens, workers can try to consult a legal professional with workers’ compensation experience to see if they can file a complaint against their employer or insurer.