Hand Surgeons Urge Snowblower Safety this Winter


Chicago, IL- February 12, 2015 -- Each year, hundreds of people suffer maiming or amputations of their fingers or hands due to the improper handling of snowblowers.  “Injuries are usually very serious and often require delicate surgery followed by weeks or even months of rehabilitation," said Rachel S. Rohde, MD, orthopaedic surgeon at the William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan.  The American Society for Surgery of the Hand would like to help avoid these injuries by increasing awareness of typical causes and by providing safety tips to help avoid injuries all together.


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

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 clutch.
  • Wait five seconds after shutting machine off to allow impeller blades to stop rotating.
  • ALWAYS use a stick or 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 and feet away from all moving parts
  • Keep a clear head, concentrate, and DO NOT DRINK before using your snowblower!

Should you cut your finger or hand, bleeding from minor cuts will often stop on their own by applying direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth.  If continuous pressure does not slow or stop the bleeding after 15 minutes, an emergency room visit may be required.  Other reasons to visit an ER are to update your tetanus protection, if necessary, or to check for tendon or nerve injury if motion or sensation (feeling) is lost in the finger. 

For More Information 

To identify a local hand surgeon spokesperson in your market, please call Tara Spiess, ASSH, at 312-880-1900.  Please also visit http://www.handcare.org for more information on hand safety.

About Hand Surgeons

Hand surgeons have received specialized additional training in the treatment of hand problems in addition to their board certified specialty training in orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, or general surgery.  To become members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, hand surgeons must have completed a full year of such additional training and must pass a rigorous certifying examination.

Many hand surgeons also have expertise with problems of the elbow, arm, and shoulder.  Some hand surgeons treat only children, some treat only adults, and some treat both.  Common problems treated include carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, wrist pain, sports injuries of the hand and wrist, fractures of the hand, wrist, and forearm, and trigger fingers. Other problems treated by hand surgeons include arthritis, nerve and tendon injuries, and congenital limb differences (birth defects).

Not all problems treated by a hand surgeon require surgery.  Hand surgeons often recommend non-surgical treatments, such as medication, splints, therapy, and injections.  

About the ASSH

The mission of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand is to advance the science and practice of hand and upper extremity surgery through education, research and advocacy on behalf of patients and practitioners. 

Tara Spiess
822 W. Washington Blvd., Chicago, IL
Ph: 312.880.1900