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The Incidence of Snow Blower–Related Injuries to the Hand in the United States

Rubinstein, Aaron J., MD; Thomson, Jennifer E., BS; Siracuse, Brianna L., BS; DeCotiis, Mark R., MD; Ahmed, Irfan H., MD; Vosbikian, Michael M., MD

doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000001747
Hand Surgery

Background Snow blowers represent a highly preventable and increasingly common mechanism of hand injury. This study examines current safety features and their impact on decreasing the incidence of snow blower–related injuries.

Methods The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System was queried to look for injuries related to the use of snow throwers or blowers between 2001 and 2016. From all of the injuries related to snow blowers, we collected information on identifying characteristics, location of injury, and type of injury (i.e., avulsion). Chi-squared tests were used for categorical variable comparisons, and Student t tests were used for continuous variable comparisons. Data analysis was performed using SAS statistical software, version 9.3 (SAS Institute, Inc., Cary, NC). The Consumer Product Safety Commission's provided SAS algorithm was used to calculate all national injury estimates and variances. Statistical significance was determined based on P < 0.05.

Results Within the study period, there were 3,550 reported injuries. The extrapolated national incidence was 92,799, with an average annual incidence of 5,800 or 1.9 injuries per 100,000 US population per year. The most commonly injured body part was the finger followed by the hand. Most common types of injuries were fractures, lacerations, and amputations.

Conclusions The incidence of snow blower injuries increased from 2001 to 2016. Unlike with other power tools, Consumer Product Safety Commission–mandated guidelines for safer operation and improvements in equipment have not been successful in producing a decrease in the incidence of snow blower injuries to the upper extremity. Based on this, further equipment modifications are necessary and should be aimed at preventing operators from placing their hand into the exit chute while the machine is still running. Physicians should take an active role in their practice as well as in their professional societies to educate and counsel patients to prevent further injury.

From the Department of Orthopaedics, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ.

Received July 31, 2018, and accepted for publication, after revision October 6, 2018.

Conflicts of interest and sources of funding: Each author certifies that he or she has no commercial associations (eg, consultancies, stock ownership, equity interest, patent/licensing arrangements, etc) that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with the submitted article.

Reprints: Jennifer E. Thomson, BS, Department of Orthopaedics, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, 140 Bergen St, ACC D1610, Newark, NJ 07103. E-mail:

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