Blade Guard on a Table Saw?

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Nigel Burnett wrote:

I use my overhead guard pretty much all the time and I still wait for the blade to stop before I reach for things.
As for your particular situation, I had an incomplete amputation of my right forearm many years ago in a plane crash... lost about 2" off each bone that had to be regrown. Some nerves ultimately reconnected; others didn't. Luckily my injury wasn't right through the joint as yours was but rather was midshaft. Some encouraging words: the "barometric" effect you feel now gets much better with time. In fact, everything gets better with time, except arthritis. That you'll have to live with. At some point in the future if it becomes debilitating you might consider letting them fuse your finger joint. But give it time, because what you live with today will probably be much different in 5 years. I no longer have any trouble out of my arm; my hand just doesn't supinate (rotate as if to cup). But I have no pain.
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Mortimer Schnerd, RN
mschnerdatcarolina.rr.com
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I'll side with Mortimer and Nigel. As a hand surgeon, I've probably cared for close to 1000 table saw injuries in my career. (At least one or two a week for the last 15 years.) So far, I have NEVER seen a table saw injury in a woodworker using a guard. The cuts that are hard to do with a guard (such as freehanding on the tablesaw - mentioned above) ought to be rethought. (Some exceptions are dados on guards with a built in splitter, and some thin rips.) I've heard every excuse -- "the power was off and the blade was coasting", "I saw the blade but not the teeth", and "I was just trimming a little bit. . . "
While few of these injuries are life-changing (although I've seem my share of those), all are lifelong -- stiffness, cold intolerance, barosensitivity, nail deformities, decreased sensation, regional pain syndromes, cosmetic abnormalities, etc. In most patients they improve with time, but do not always go away.
Needless to say, I use the guard user whenever possible. When not possible, I look to other tools, or exercise even more care than usual.
David S.
Nigel Burnett wrote:

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With all due respect to your profession, skill and experience David, I find the above statement to be beyond belief. Saw guards are far from fool proof and if you truly have seen that many table saw injuries, I find it very hard to believe you've never seen a hand injury on a saw with a guard.
Likewise, I was a paramedic for 12 years in a rural area. In all of that time I never took in a single patient from a table saw accident, though there are plenty of table saws in garages and basements around here. For you to attend 1-2 per week for 15 years, your experience is at the very least, contrary to my own. Must be these people drive themselves in for treatment?

That I can believe. Isn't that the way that accidents go though.
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-Mike-
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Mike Marlow wrote:

In nearly 15 years as an orthopedic nurse in a hospital setting, I can only recall taking care of 3-4 table saw accidents myself. I saw what he wrote and wondered but I didn't really think about it. Now you make me think about it.
Are all these guys outpatients?
I don't really want to question him since he's agreeing with my position but his numbers are a bit odd. His conclusions, however, are right on. Obviously the man is a genius. <G>
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Mortimer Schnerd, RN
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"Mortimer Schnerd, RN" <mschnerdatcarolina.rr.com> wrote in message

Maybe he runs the day shift in the Grand Rapids ED or something--some place where there's a lot of woodworking going on. Still, not one with a guard is kind of surprising. I do wonder how he _knew_ whether the guard was used though--if the place is that busy (and for him to have seen that many table saw cuts I'd expect it to be a _very_ busy ED) I'd be really surprised if any surgeon in the ED had time to talk about matters peripheral to the treatment.
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J. Clarke wrote:

Au contraire. It's been my experience very few of these guys are all business. I'd be surprised if they didn't take the time to ask. Hell, I'd ask. It's one of the ways I assess level of consciousness and orientation. Kills two birds with one stone... professional and personal curiosity.
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Mortimer Schnerd, RN
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Mortimer Schnerd, RN wrote:

I've been sent to emergency rooms by radio control airplane propellers and on and off-road bicycle crashes, but never a tool.
Every time, the attending professionals asked about the details of the injury. I met a PA who flies r/c and an orthopedic doc who mountain bikes! <G>
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"Mortimer Schnerd, RN" <mschnerdatcarolina.rr.com> writes:

He did say he was a hand surgeon.
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Bruce Barnett wrote:

Yeah, but his patients would become my patients if they become admitted to the hospital. I work with orthopedic surgeons every day at work; that's the area I work in. We're an orthopedic/neurosurgery/med-surg floor.
I used to work on a combination orthopedic joint/urology unit at a large teaching hospital. I called it : "bones 'n boners".
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Sorry -- I didn't mean to start a battle of numbers. I am one of only a couple hand surgeons in a community west of Cleveland. My practice is limited to hands and wrists, and my affiliation with the Cleveland Clinic draws a lot of referrals. I also keep a part of my day open for emergency patients, increasing my availability for these problems, and probably the number I see relative to a hand surgeon who tries to see only elective patients. Most of the injuries are "warning shots" - requiring little more than dressing changes, motion exercises, wound care, and a few sutures. Most are able to bring themselves, or find a ride to the ER or office, rather than requiring the services of a rescue squad. Just about everything surgical below the wrist is managed as an outpatient now (with fingertip and nail injuries repaired in the office), except for procedures requiring a microvascular repair.
As a woodworker, I always find time to ask how it happened. I've actually learned quite a bit from other's "experience". Often it opens them up to share some stories. At follow-up visits, some have brought in pictures of their projects, and a few brought in some smaller works. I've been astounded by some of the craftsmanship, and find it a rewarding part of my practice. I might have even convinced a couple of them to use guards, pushsticks, splitters, outfeed support, etc. Or not. . .G>
David
Mortimer Schnerd, RN wrote:

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Sounds like a good topic to share with the group.
What are the most frequent causes to accidents with tablesaws?
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Bruce Barnett wrote:

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I guess there are two "David"s, but I agree with the other one.
The other risks are the usual
No guard. Pushing a hand into the cutting path to block kickback. No outfeed support, requiring a lot of downpressure at the end of the cut. If it binds, the hand goes into the blade. (Sometimes even with a pushstick.) The monotony of repetitive tasks. Alcohol (believe it or not) and fatigue. Knots. Freehand cuts and pieces that are too small. Failure to use pushsticks. Lots of injuries occur after the cut -- reaching over the blade and running a hand or forearm over the invisible, spinning teeth. Distraction (either sudden - a tap on the shoulder during a cut or chronic - dwelling on other problems while working). Time pressure to finish a job. I believe that carelessness and poor technique play a big role, but people differ on what they consider careless (note the thread on "watching the blade"), and what is appropriate technique.
David
David wrote:

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I don't believe it.

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posting on the Saw Stop thread that his wife was a surgeon that does a thousand a year.
It doesn't correlate statistically with my experience as a maker of saws in defense of personal injury claims and providing individuals as technical experts in depositions.
This is an important matter. David should authenticate if it is true.
Table saws are inherently dangerous and all should be encouraged to use their guards, splitters, and pushsticks whenever possible, and their minds in all cases. UL/CSA standards committees should be encouraged to provide standards that would allow manufacturers to provide OEM guarding that is "practical" and effective. That has not always been the case.
There was a time, and it may have changed I'm several years out of the business, that the very good aftermarket guards no matter what brand could not have been supplied as standard equipment with UL/CSA saws because they didn't meet the standards. That doesn't make sense.
Frank

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Frank Boettcher wrote:

Keep in mind that some injuries require multiple operations to repair.
My neighbor, who lost two fingers to a table saw had one restored, but after two years had it re-amputated as the previous operation(s) were not adequately successful.

I would think that only a small number of table saw injuries result in a personal injury claim being filed, if you mean lawsuits, more if you mean workman's comp and still more if you include health insurance claims. E.g. a home-user who removed his guard is not likely to even consider suing.
Surgeon specialists can do a lot of work. When my father had bypass surgery it was his surgeon's thrid operation of the day, and it was only mid-afternoon.
I amskeptical of that number if if refers only to table saw injuries. It is borderline believable that a hand-surgery specialist would perform 1000 surgeries per year for power saw (of all sorts) injuries. It is entirely beleiveable that she would have a thousand face-to-face, or face-to-hand visits for saw-injuries if you include simple stiching, pre-surgical consultation, and follow-up.
Suppose ahand-specialist performs an average of five operations a day, five days a week, (allowing two days for consultaion, doing rounds etc). That's 1250 operations a year. Unless she is a table-saw- injury-hand-surgeon specialist that seems unrealistic.
The statistic that I do believe is ZERO tramatic amputations or other injuries from contact with the blade when using a guard.
Problems with poorly designed or utilized guards can cause kick-back but it is pretty hard to imagine one that brings a body-part into contact with the blade.
BTW, The Cleveland Clinic does research on animals and so has some veterinarians on staff. For restoring traumaticly amputated fingers, it was routine, and may still be routine, for a verterinarian surgeon to assist as he was _really_ expert at working on a small scale.
--

FF


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On 25 Oct 2006 07:25:59 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net wrote:

Not accurate. Cases are filed, just not necessarily won. Manufacturer has the obligation to "Guard and Warn" failure to do either puts them in a bad position in an action.
That is why when other service part tooling for obsolete tools was discontinued after a long period of limited demand, guard tooling, warning label art work, and warning printed matter was preserved forever, at least while I was active.

In my area they see patients for three days a week and do elective surgery on one day. My wife was a recent patient for CT. There are obviously emergencies, however, I question the volume.
Additionally, if you multiply the claimed number by the number of hand surgeons in the U.S. the number would be well over a hundred thousand table saw hand injuries a year. My local woodwoking club has had none in the past ten years, so you other guys must be real careless.
Frank

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Frank Boettcher wrote:

How is that not accurate?

I didn't deny that cases are filed or won. I speculated that a home-user who removed his guard is not likely to even consider suing. That implies that such suits would be rare, not nonexistant, although no one in thid thread has presented an example of such a suit--yet, despite the fact that we have had examples of accidents presented.

Yes, that is one reason why I expect that most people who injure themselves after removing their guards never consider suing. They may not have been smart enough to avoid injury but maybe they are smart or honest enough to realize that if they ignored the manufacturer's warnings and removed the manufacturer's safety device, they don't have a case.
Another reason may be that most of the injuries that do require professional treatment are (hopefully) relatively trivial--mere stitches required.
Kep in mind that there is a reason why you see news items about people winning seemingly trivial suits--they are rare. If they were commonplace, they wouldn't be newsworthy.
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snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net wrote:

More likely IMO is that they are *not* in fact that smart, but the lawyer(s) they contact *are*... <g>
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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On 25 Oct 2006 12:07:37 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net wrote:

And I would contend that your speculation is in error.

And I would contend that you are in error with this statement also. I've served on the liability committee of a fortune 100 company (not the woodworking machinery company) and can assure you that the vast majority of cases are settled without going to court simply because it cost the defendant less to do so, win or lose. The vast majority of those potential cases were without merit.
Frank
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