Every year, thousands of people suffer serious hand injuries while using power saws. All types of saws — including circular saws, jigsaws, reciprocating saws and table saws — can easily send you or a loved one to the hospital for emergency hand surgery.
Hand injuries from power saws can be minor, but many are more serious, requiring emergency reconstruction and surgical treatment. The good news is that this type of injury can be prevented if tool operators are careful to follow safety protocols and precautions.
Types of Power Saw Hand Injuries
The severity of a power saw injury depends upon its location — finger, hand or wrist — as well as the depth of penetration. Certain saw characteristics, including blade thickness, tooth pattern and force, also have an effect on the degree of injury.
Contact with the blade can cause injury to both soft tissues and bone. Sometimes, only the skin is injured. In most cases, however, the tendons, muscles and/or nerves are involved, which may result in a loss of feeling or motor function along with circulation problems. A saw can also break a bone, cause an amputation or generate electric shocks and burns.
Treatment Options for Power Saw Hand Injuries
Surgical treatment is a must for most hand and upper extremity injuries from power saws. Stitches may be enough for cuts, while larger skin injuries may require grafts. Tendons and nerves can sometimes be repaired, and some amputations can be reattached. Broken bones may need repair with wires, plates and screws, followed by casting.
Not all treatment options are appropriate for every power saw injury. A hand and wrist specialist can recommend a feasible approach, with the goal of optimizing overall function. However, even with treatment, some patients may continue to experience weakness, numbness and stiffness.
Preventing Hand Injuries from Power Saws
Following safety precautions is essential to preventing hand injuries. When using power saws, keep these tips in mind:
- Never override safety guards
- Don’t wear loose clothing or jewelry
- Don’t look away from your work
- Use the correct saw and blade for the task
- Use only sharp blades
- Keep your finger off the trigger when moving the saw
- Check for proper blade guard operation before making a cut
- Let the saw reach full speed before cutting
- Support your work materials so they don’t shift around
- Switch off and unplug the saw before trying to restart the saw from a stall
- Keep a clear head and never use alcohol during saw operation
If you suffer any type of industrial injury to the hand, you’ll need prompt medical attention and potentially emergency hand surgery. For expert care in the greater Salt Lake City area, contact Dr. J. Douglas Burrows at the Center of Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Excellence.
Dr. Burrows, a leading northern Utah hand and wrist specialist, has more than two decades of experience performing plastic and reconstructive orthopedic hand and upper extremity surgery. To schedule a consultation or for more expert advice on preventing power saw hand injuries, contact our West Valley City office today.