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. U.S. Power Saw Injury Epidemiology and Prevention Strategies. . Lee Hurt, MS 1 ; Katherine Hunting, PhD, MPH 1 (faculty advisor) 1 George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. RESULTS Occupational Injuries

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u s power saw injury epidemiology and prevention strategies

U.S. Power Saw Injury Epidemiology and Prevention Strategies

Lee Hurt, MS1; Katherine Hunting, PhD, MPH1 (faculty advisor) 1George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services


Occupational Injuries

  • 2,520 injuries that resulted in days away from work in 2003
  • 98% of the injured were men
  • Most were White or Hispanic
  • 10% of the injuries were classified as amputations
  • 31% were away from work for > 30 days
  • Length of employment not correlated with injury occurrence


This investigation researched the epidemiology of occupational and non-occupational power saw injuries in the U.S. Existing power saw injury prevention strategies were reviewed and a novel safety device was described. This study explored non-fatal injuries from the major types of power saws, which include portable circular saws, table saws, band saws, radial arm saws, and jigsaws.

Prevention Strategies - New Engineering Control

  • SawStopTM - Device detects blade contact with person and brakes blade within 5 milliseconds7

1) SawStop blade approaching

simulated finger (hot dog).

2) SawStop blade shown braked

following contact with simulated finger

Research Studies – Descriptive

  • Utah shop class surveillance system5
      • School children not covered by Fair Labor Standards Act
      • 30% of equipment injuries due to power saws
  • Albuquerque Woodworker’s Association Survey6
      • 38% reported repeated injuries with the same tool (13% with table saw)
      • 50% had taken a safety course
      • 18% had taken a tool-specific safety course

3) Hot dog shown with

minor nick from blade contact

Haddon Matrix for Power Saw Injuries

Research Studies – Descriptive

  • Michigan state occupational injury surveillance system3
      • Confirmed that BLS data under represents occupational amputation injuries
  • Minnesota state occupational injury surveillance system4
      • 61% of amputation injuries occurred using machinery that lacked a guard
      • 40% of injured reported that either the tool or the materials shifted position
      • 13% had clothing get caught in the machinery

Existing Prevention Strategies

  • Fair Labor Standards Act – prohibits children < 18 from working in jobs using power saws
  • Employer provided safety training

Non-Occupational Injuries

  • Estimated 75,349 injuries from power saws treated in emergency departments in 2004
  • 95% of the injured were men
  • 72% of injuries occurred at home
  • 2% of injuries occurred at school

(location not recorded for remaining 26%)

  • 19% of injuries occurred in those aged 65 and older


  • Data on occupational injuries were gathered from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Profiles System.1
  • Data on non-occupational injuries were gathered from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.2 These Federal surveillance systems provided information on the demographic characteristics of those experiencing power saw injuries, as well as the types of saws used.
  • A literature review yielded additional descriptive information from studies of state-based occupational injury surveillance systems, a school shop class injury surveillance system, and surveys of amateur wood workers.
  • No studies were found regarding power saw injury prevention.
  • A product review of existing and new power saw safety devices was performed.

Manufacturer Provided Power Saw Safety Devices


  • Need studies to determine injury rates by saw type and age – especially to understand risk to users 65 and older
  • Safety devices need to be provided as standard equipment
  • New technical innovations like contact detection/blade braking device may significantly reduce injuries but need incentives (possibly from insurance providers) to encourage rapid adoption


1 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Profiles System. available at: http://data.bls.gov/GQT/servlet/StartProfile.

2 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System On-Line. available at: http://www.cpsc.gov/library/neiss.html.

3 Stanbury M, Reilly MJ, Rosenman KD. Work-Related Amputations in Michigan, 1997. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 2003; 44: 359-367.

4 Boyle D, Parker D, Larson C, Pessoa-Brandao L. Nature, Incidence, and Cause of Work-Related Amputations in Minnesota. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 2000; 37: 542-550.

5 Knight S, Junkins Jr. EP, Lightfoot AC, Cazier CF, Olson LM. Injuries Sustained by Students in Shop Class. Pediatrics. 2000; 106: 10-13.

6 Becker TM, Trinkaus KM, Buckley DI. Tool-Related Injuries Among Amateur and Professional Woodworkers. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 1996; 38(10): 1032-1035.

7 Sawstop, LLC. How It Works, Overview. available at: http://www.sawstop.com/how-it-works-overview.htm.

* indicates standard equipment, $ indicates availability on high-end models