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Table Saw Injuries: Epidemiology and a Proposal for Preventive Measures

Chung, Kevin C. M.D., M.S.; Shauver, Melissa J. M.P.H.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: November 2013 - Volume 132 - Issue 5 - p 777e–783e
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3182a3bfb1
Hand/Peripheral Nerve: Original Articles

Background: Table saws are ubiquitous devices in professional, home, and school woodshops that have the potential to cause severe injuries. Many of these injuries results in finger and thumb tendon, nerve, and vascular damage or amputation. Long-term outcomes of these injuries can include functional and sensory deficits. Table saw manufacturers are required to equip saws with blade guards to prevent blade contact; nevertheless, treatment of table saw injuries is a common occurrence in U.S. emergency departments.

Methods: The authors performed a literature search using PubMed and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature to compile epidemiology data relevant to table saw injuries. The authors also reviewed the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s briefing package on table saw blade contact injuries.

Results: Over 30,000 table saw injuries occur annually. Fingers and hands are the most frequently injured body parts, and lacerations are the most common injuries. Individuals suffering from occupational injuries tend to be younger than those injured during amateur woodworking. A small but important minority of injuries are to students participating in school shop classes. Medical costs for the treatment of table saw injuries are estimated at more than $2 billion every year.

Conclusions: SawStop technology stops the saw blade when contact with skin is made, resulting in a small cut rather than a more complicated laceration or amputation. The application of this novel technology in saw designs can prevent serious injuries that deleteriously affect lives at the personal and societal levels.

Ann Arbor, Mich.

From the Section of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Michigan Health System.

Received for publication January 11, 2013; accepted March 6, 2013.

Disclosure: The authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article.

Kevin C. Chung, M.D., M.S., Section of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Michigan Health System, 2130 Taubman Center, SPC 5340, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48109-0340,

©2013American Society of Plastic Surgeons