Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Snowblowers Leading Cause of Finger Amputation!


Interestingly, snowblowers are a leading cause of finger amputations among consumer products.

A problem with the design of the snowblower is that the snow can clog the discharge chute & build up around the auger; jamming & stalling the motor. This is complicated by the fact that the auger may twist before applying enough resistance to the motor to stop it. When the jam is cleared with a hand, the auger returns to its natural shape, suddenly & with great force, severing fingers & hands; making snowblowers the leading cause of traumatic finger amputations.

Aurora Off Road's newest invention, Slush Buster, helps prevent the attachment of slush & snow on the chute, auger & housing which reduces clogging & jamming. Slush Buster coats the surfaces with a super slippery hydrophobic polymer, VS721, making it difficult for the wet snow to stick. The snowblower operates with greater efficiency & the problem of clogging & jamming is eliminated. An added benefit is that it improves the performance of the snowblower reducing time & effort to clear the snow as well as reducing fuel consumption & wear & tear on the machine.

Municipalities & professional snow removal companies are now coating their snow plow blades with Slush Buster to stop the annoying & time consuming necessity of dislodging & clearing slush & snow that sticks to the blade. Previously, the operator had to stop the truck, lift the plow & allow it to drop onto the pavement to attempt to dislodge the build-up. This constant banging on the pavement is damaging to the equipment & time consuming. When that fails then it's time to get out of the truck & go at the build up with a shovel or pick. With Slush Buster on the plow, the slush & snow just falls off. No stopping, no banging, no shovel & pick & the driver gets home earlier with his plow in one piece.

Slush Buster has been proven effective on snowmobiles where it is used to prevent the attachment of slush, snow & ice on the rails, skid plates & suspension parts. Build up of snow & ice on these machines can add substantial weight & impact negatively on performance, speed & fuel consumption. In addition, if allowed to freeze, the ice can cause expensive damage to the track, clutch, bearings & suspension parts & in some cases even snapping drive axles. There is also the safety issue of snow & ice building up on the rails where riders are dependant for sure footing. If their foot slips, they could very easily lose control of the snowmobile which can result in injury to the operators & damage to the machine.

Snowblower owners have tried various remedies from cooking oil to hair spray to lubricating oils, silicones & PTFE's with limited success. The problem is that the slush & snow rapidly washes away the spray. Slush Buster is applied by rubbing the polymer into the surface with a sponge or rag & allowing it to cure. It binds to the surface & can be lightly buffed to an even more slippery surface for greater performance. This binding process adds durability & life. Slush Buster lasts for weeks rather than minutes.

More information is available at Aurora Off Road.

The American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) recommends that individuals take the proper precautions to prevent hand related injuries while removing snow this winter. Each year thousands of people suffer maiming or amputations of their fingers or hands due to improper handling of snowblowers.

"Snowblower injuries are usually very serious, often requiring delicate surgery followed by weeks or even months of rehabilitation" said David M. Lichtman, MD of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. "Most snowblower operators aren't aware that the impeller is only 2 inches below the opening of the discharge chute."

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, two-thirds of snowblower injuries involves fingers & among consumer products is a leading cause of finger amputations. In a 1999 study, 3,546 injuries were found to be snowblower related accidents but not necessarily product caused. Of those injuries, approximately 3,000 involved hand & fingers, including 283 finger amputations. With proper safety techniques you can stay away from the emergency room.

To prevent hand injuries the ASSH suggests the following safety tips if your snowblower jams.
  • Turn it OFF!!
  • NEVER put your hand down the chute or around the blades
  • Disengage the clutch
  • Wait 5 seconds after shutting the machine off to allow impeller blades to stop
  • Beware of the brief recoil of motor & blades that occurs after the machine has been turned off
  • ALWAYS use a stick or a broom handle to clear impacted snow. Never use your hand
  • Keep all shields in place. DO NOT REMOVE the safety devices on the machine
  • Keep hands & feet away from all moving parts
  • Keep a clear head, concentrate & DO NOT DRINK before using your snowblower

Injury Profile
Average Age: 44 years
Sex: Male
Dominant Hand: 90% of injuries
Amputations of tips of fingers
Middle finger most commonly injured

Common Weather Conditions
Heavy, wet snow
Large snow accumulation
Temperature: 28 °F or greater (-2°C or greater)

Injury Causes
Snow clogging the exit chute of the machine.
Not noticing that the impeller blades are still rotating even though the machine is off.
Operator attempts to clean the clogged exit chute with hands.
Hands connect with the rotating blades, resulting in severe injury.

Recommendations:
Snowblowers are safe if used properly.

Source:
National Electronic Injury Surveillance Systems of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data

American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) 2001

Aurora Off Road, division of Aurora Marine Industries Inc http://auroraoffroad.com/



2 comments:

Shopnerkotha said...

Clearing snow is easy with a blower always. Use it and be safe. Good luck.

Kurt said...

This is complicated by the fact that the auger may twist before applying enough ... augerblades.blogspot.com