How to avoid power tool injuries in post-Sandy clean up

As New Jersey residents continue to clean up in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, many see chainsaws, wood splitters and wood chippers as helpful tools. They can help in cutting downed trees, removing troublesome debris and lead to faster clean up (which is especially important given the Nor’easter bearing down on the area).

However, these tools can lead to severe (and gruesome) injuries to hands and fingers. As of today, there are no significant reports of hand and finger injuries, but hospitals across the state are bracing for these types of injuries as more people are cutting and lifting debris.

There is no magic formula to staying safe when using power tools. It essentially comes down to using common sense. When using powered equipment, users should make certain to read and follow any instructions that come with the tools. It is also prudent to keep hands clear of machinery while it’s on, especially wood-chipper machines. Countless injuries have occurred when a person has gotten too close or has tried to force a piece of wood into the machine, only to lose a hand in the process.

Even after turning a machine off (whether it is a chain saw or wood-chipper, users should not simply assume that the blades have stopped automatically. Even without power driving them, turning blades could still lead to severe injuries.

People cleaning up from the storm should also be wary of handling heavy pieces of wood or other sharp objects (such broken aluminum siding). By following these tips, you can reduce the risk of suffering an injury.

Source: Connecticut, Chainsaws, woodsplitters major culprit in post-storm injuries, November 5, 2012

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