Caltrans worker severs arm in gruesome San Diego accident

by Michael Pines, Accident & Injury Expert

Accidents in the workplace - michael pines injury attorney

Accidents in the workplace

can happen even if proper safety procedures are in place. Despite even the most careful and observant laborer, equipment can fail or a coworker or employer can overlook certain safety measures, thereby causing catastrophic personal injury to themselves or others.

A grisly case in Fallbrook, just outside of San Diego, made headlines Thursday as a Caltrans worker’s arm was cut off while clearing an area of wild brush. Jason Giessow, an Encinitas resident, was reported to have been working with a large chain saw-type instrument when a nearby cable became loose. The cable became entangled in the machinery and whipped into the air until it caught Giessow’s arm, instantly severing it at the shoulder.

The man was taken to Palomar Hospital for medical treatment.

“This machine has rotors that go about 10,000 rpm. It got under that cable and he happened to be standing too close and the cable came snapping through and just severed his arm at the shoulder. Very fast, within a millisecond,” Jan Caldwell with San Diego County Sheriff's Office said.

Giessow’s arm was located 50 yards away from the accident and was immediately transported via helicopter to the hospital 20 minutes after the man had arrived for treatment. Although the arm was found relatively quickly, the doctors were unable to successfully reattach it. Volunteer efforts consisted of 25 people and two search dogs who worked diligently to help save the man’s arm.

“We’re all really traumatized,” said Judy Mitchell with the Mission Resource Conservation District, where Giessow had acted as a private consultant.

On Giessow calling the day after to inquire about another

injured employee

, Mitchell said, “This is typical of him. He has a tremendous character… We’re devastated that this would happen to him. He’s such a well-thought of person.”

She added, “This incident could have taken his life, but it didn’t. We’re just so grateful he’s alive.”

Understanding workplace injury

Workplace injury can happen anywhere. While it’s often more common to see a workplace injury occur in labor-intensive position, it isn’t exclusive to laborious jobs. When a serious accident occurs, it drastically changes the life of the person and his or her family. A person can initially recover from a catastrophic injury, but major injuries often leaves a lifetime of pain even if somewhat of a recovery has been made. In other words, catastrophic injuries affect the person for the rest of their life.

Universal safety guidelines for workplace safety

If you feel unsafe, let your supervisor know

Because workplace injury can occur in many different shapes and forms – from physical injury to asbestos, heat stress, latex allergies, confined spaces, drug exposures and more – it’s important to be aware of your specific surroundings. If you sense you’re not safe, or if you feel ill, contact your supervisor immediately and ask for appropriate action.

Use proper equipment

No matter what kind of work setting you are in, use proper equipment that allows you to achieve the maximum amount of comfort and safety for your specific working condition. For instance, there are many office workers who report cases of carpel tunnel syndrome every year. Some cases are severe and require medical intervention up to and including surgery. If you work nearby a computer, make sure your area is safe and comfortable and don’t be shy to ask for ergonomic equipment. Using the proper equipment is applicable, of course, to all different work settings – you know your work environment best so speak up to avoid the next workplace injury at your job.

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