How to Avoid Common Power Tool Accidents

Saw Accidents

Many common power tool injuries fall under the category of lacerations and amputations. A laceration is a jagged wound or cut, whereas an amputation is a full removal of a body part. A majority of these accidents occur to the fingers or hand. "You have a power tool, and what you are doing with the power tool, you are holding with your hand," says Dr. Sacchetti, Chief of Emergency Services at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, N.J. "When things don't go well, your hand takes the brunt of it."

The severity of the injury depends on a number of factors, including location of injury, the deepness of the cut and type of power tool that caused the accident. Any amputation can affect mobility, movement and dexterity. Yet, for example, losing the tip of an index finger might not affect the holding and grasping of things as much as losing part of a thumb, especially if it's on your dominant hand.

There are several power tools that can inflict these injuries. One of the most common is the saw. From table saws to circular saws and chain saws, these tools have sharp blades that can be designed to cut a variety of materials. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissions' research, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 93,800 saw-related injuries in 2001 [source: Adler]. Accidents can occur when fingers or a hand get too close to the blade or are pulled into the blade when cutting a piece of wood. Trying to cut a piece of wood that is too small for the tool is another situation that can cause injury.

Yet, taking the proper precautions can help to reduce the risk for injury. Here are a few tips to help reduce your risk for saw-related injuries:

  • Don't take off the safety guard on a saw; it's there for a reason.
  • Use a push-stick when guiding wood through a saw.
  • Don't wear jewelry when operating power tools. Wearing rings around moving parts can lead to injuries that necessitate whole finger amputations.