The Events: A YMCA employee recently had an accident while using an unguarded table saw. Unfortunately, he cut off the tip of his index finger, but the incident could have had a much more serious outcome.
The Possibilities: Instead of losing just the tip of one finger he could have severed several fingers. Although fingers can be reattached, there is no guarantee that it can be done in every case, nor is there any certainty of how well they will function if reattached. Unlike a knife or shear that slices flesh without too much devastation, a saw destroys what is in the immediate path of the blade – the edges may be smooth, but tissue is irretrievably lost. Shock and blood loss may prevent an individual who is working alone from recovering the severed digits in the interest of preserving life.
The Lesson: Do you know where your blade guard is? If it isn’t on the saw where it belongs, put it there. Doing so may prevent a very traumatic injury – or an expensive fine if OSHA happens to visit you. Fines for serious violations normally range from $1,500 to $7,000. The dollar cost of reattachment surgery is astronomically higher; the human cost in terms of pain and suffering, even if the digits can be restored, is incalculable.
Make sure your saw is equipped like the unit below – make sure your staff utilizes the saw with the blade guard in place so that they do not endanger their hands or their life.