June 28, 2013 10:28 pm
The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database reports that nearly 3.5 million people a year are seen in a U.S. emergency room for injury to an upper limb, which ranges from shoulder to fingers; of these, 45 percent occur at home and 23 percent involve deep cuts, called lacerations. Dr. Nebil Bill Aydin, a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon with the New York Group for Plastic Surgery and an attending surgeon at Westchester Medical Center, has operated on many home repair-related upper limb injuries, including the wrist laceration experienced by 55 year-old David Guiliano of Valhalla, NY, that nearly cost him his left hand.
Guiliano, a firefighter as well as a professional bricklayer, was renovating a friend's pool house and needed to demolish a brick seven feet up a wall. He stood on an overturned plastic bucket and held his heavy electric grinder tool in both hands high over his head. As he pushed grinder to brick, the blade tip caught and jerked, pushing him backward. As he fell, the grinder slipped from his grasp and the blade sliced his left wrist, cutting through tendons, nerves and arteries down to the bone.
Looking back, Guiliano recognizes that his many years as a bricklayer led to complacency about home repair work. "I didn't secure my balance, and I used a grinder with an exposed blade instead of a saw with a protective guard," he said. "I bypassed important precautions because of my experience, but I'd urge everyone to take time to prepare properly and put some simple safety measures in place for any task using tools."
Regardless of experience, following simple safety rules can help you avoid a serious injury:
• Think through the tools and materials you'll need in advance, and position them strategically in your work area before starting. If you realize in the middle of the project that you've forgotten a tool, carefully and fully disengage from your work to get it — do not lean over or reach up for it.
• Do not use a tool that lacks safety mechanisms or is inappropriate for a specific task. If you're unsure, check with an expert at the hardware store.
• Alert a family member or neighbor that you are undertaking a home repair project and ask if they'll come by to check up on you periodically.
• Keep a phone and first aid supplies nearby, in case. If you're not working at your own home, be sure you know the specific address so emergency dispatch can find you, and be aware of nearby major medical centers.
Source: New York Group for Plastic Surgery
Published with permission from RISMedia.