Hand Surgeons Provide Tips for Power Saw Safety

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The American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) recommends that individuals take the proper precautions to prevent hand-related injuries while tending to Spring projects.

The American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) recommends that individuals take the proper precautions to prevent hand-related injuries while tending to Spring projects. Each year, thousands of people suffer maiming or amputations of their fingers or hands due to improper handling of power saws.

In a 2001 study, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that over 50,000 people were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with table saws, band saws, miter saws, or redial arm saws in the calendar year. Contact with the saw blade was the major hazard to power saw operators, followed by being hit by stock or cutting material.

Nerve, tendon, vascular injury and amputation are possible as well. Fingertip injuries are the most common with the thumb being the most commonly injured digit. It has been determined that a circular table saw can sever a human forearm 6 centimeters in diameter in just 40 - 60 milliseconds depending upon the feeding power of the saw.

”Power saw injuries are usually very serious, often requiring delicate surgery followed by weeks or even months of rehabilitation,” said Jeffery C. Wint, MD of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. “"Even with treatment an injury may result in permanent changes to the function of the injured hand and upper extremity."

To prevent hand injuries, the ASSH suggests the following safety tips when using a power saw:    

• Never use your hands to clear the scraps from a sawing worktable, instead, use a long stick.

• Do not wear loose clothing or jewelry around the wrists.

• Keep your finger off the trigger when carrying a portable power saw.

• When starting, let the saw reach full speed before cutting and support the work firmly so it will not shift.

• Check for proper blade guard operation before each cut.

If you are injured seek prompt medical attention. Delay in treatment can lead to a higher risk of infection or tissue loss. The damage done to a finger, hand or any site often exceeds what may be initially apparent due to the force of these types of injuries.

For more information about the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and its free “Find a Hand Surgeon” service offered to the general public, please visit: http://www.handcare.org.

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