Domestic power saw injuries on the rise

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The rate of injuries from power saws and angle grinders used at home is increasing according to the Annual Scientific Congress (ASC) of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) held in Adelaide last week.

Around 1500 surgeons are met at the Adelaide Convention Centre for a week of workshops, discussions, masterclasses across a broad range of surgical issues including power saw use.

While power saws have been an important tool on construction sites, their domestic use is also increasing.

Darwin plastic surgery service registrar, Dr Edward Gibson, told the conference that while there were numerous safety checks in workplaces, training and safety devices may be lacking when these saws are used around the household.

“Circular saws can cause significant trauma with lasting disability and there are no restrictions on their sales, meaning they are widely available,” Gibson said.

“Anecdotally, our surgical department has witnessed a dramatic increase in trauma from power saws occurring around the home rather than at work.”

Gibson conducted a retrospective audit of all admissions related to angle grinder or power saws between January 2011 and August 2016, with a literature review also undertaken.

During the study period, 94 cases were found and all bar one involved males between 15-75 years old. Those aged 30-50 represented more than one third of cases.

Two thirds of the cases happened at home.

The most affected areas were hands and arms, which accounted for 58 cases, while 43 cases involved tendon, nerve or bony injuries.

Gibson said trauma from power saws was likely to continue to rise due to their ready availability and emphasised the importance of recognising the risks associated with their use.

“The trend towards injuries being sustained at home rather than at work is important to understand so that potential prevention interventions can be better targeted,” he said.