Caution: Missing Fingers
Quick, think of somebody who has lost a finger or was injured due to a table saw. Many of those injuries are the result of misuse of the machine, or unsafe practices involved while using the machine. There are many practices and procedures that can be implemented into a safety program to allow for safer use of table saws and, therefore, fewer injuries and lost time from work. In addition to these practices, new technology has been invented and applied which has resulted in fewer injuries and lost fingers.
An estimated 10 amputations happen each day from the use of table saws. In addition, there are more than 40,000 table saw injuries every year. These numbers can be reduced and even eliminated through the proper use and maintenance of these machines. Table saws have guards in place to protect extremities and the face from accidental cuts or splinters flying around. Before and after each use, a worker should check all guards to ensure they are in their proper place and working as designed. By using another piece of wood or a molded plastic piece, an operator can safely move the wood through the cut while keeping his or her fingers away from the blade. Wood that is being cut spins up saw dust and splinters, which can cause injury if correct personal protective equipment is not worn. Safety glasses or a safety shield should be worn at all times to prevent facial and eye injuries. Wood can also “kickback”, which means the blade catches the wood and flings it back at the worker. Spectators should also keep at least three feet away on all sides of the machine.
Advancements in technology have allowed for fewer potential injuries. A company called Saw Stop has created technology that does not allow a blade to cut through a finger or other soft fleshy skin. The blade on the machine detects if electricity can be conducted by the material it is cutting through, and if it senses a current, a trigger is applied resulting in the blade to fall into the table leaving the skin uncut and the finger fully functional. Although slightly more expensive, the blade will not cut through an extremity and reduce blade injuries to zero. This advancement in table saw safety technology can help eliminate the amputation statistics caused by table saws.
Table saws are effective tools that can be used to help create great projects. By implementing new practices and safety programs, as well as investing in newer safety technology, businesses and people can work to eliminate injuries on the job site.
Websites for further information:
Table saw safety: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/woodworking/table_saws.html
Table saw safety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSzOc6-UQEk&feature=youtu.be
Saw Stop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiYoBbEZwlk
Table saw safety tips: