Men are do-it-yourself’ers (DIY’ers). Regardless of their ineptitude or lack of common sense, no guy will ever pass up the opportunity to build things. It’s in a dude’s blood to create, erect and assemble stuff to leave behind a permanent visual landmark of his legacy—or at least until the next male comes along to take it down and replace it with his own legacy.
Man’s attempt to leave a permanent mark often inadvertently leaves marks on the man himself, especially when he depends on his confidence alone to carry him through the act of cutting, gluing, excavating, welding, spraying, hammering or splicing pieces of wood, metal, glass, dirt or beer together. Confidence is defined as that feeling you have before you fully comprehend the situation.
Although falls from unstable floors and ladders remain the number one cause of injury for home DIY’ers, the advent of power tools has certainly accelerated man’s ability to harm himself while clouding his logistical processing skills.
At the very least, he’ll buy power tools, because they’re loud and powerful—especially when you add in cutting edge technology and voltage. Not only can you maim yourself with sharp, penetrating construction tools but also electrocute yourself while tripping over extension cords.
Nail guns accidents are popular reasons for emergency department (ED) visits and have been on the rise. But hey, what man would turn down the chance to use a nail gun? It saves time and energy. More importantly, the tool has the word “gun” in it.
I recall going on a call once where a roofer and a framer didn’t see eye to eye, so they tried to shoot each other’s eye out with their pneumatic weaponry. Thank goodness they were using galvanized spiked ammunition, which reduced the risk of rust developing within their soft tissue injuries.
OSHA (Ouch! Saws hurt a lot) reports electrical circular saws still beat nail guns—with more than 250,000 ED visits for circular-saw injuries alone this past year … all from the same patient.
One reported case involved a 37-year-old male who tried to cut a tree branch with a circular saw … while standing on a running wood chipper. Apparently two of his badly manicured distal digits fell into the chipper, thus forcing the patient from this point on to take up short hand.
This case provides a lesson for all DIY’ers to use appropriate tools for the appropriate job. Instead of a skill saw, the patient should have used a safer power tool, one that reaches temperatures of 900° with parts operating at 68 mph with 600 razor sharp teeth passing at any given point per second: the chainsaw. Fortunately, only 40,000 injuries occur annually from chainsaws, with Jason accounting for 50% of these so-called “accidents.”
Electric drills, although “boring” in comparison to other power tool trauma, will still put the DIY’ers at risk for not only punctures and chipping injuries, but also electrocution injuries, which just so happened to be the cause of death for first cardiac arrest patient I ever ran on.
It stands to reason in today’s economy that there are homeowners out there who are often mislead by videos, TV shows and even chain hardware stores that tell these poor, unsuspecting souls they can save money by not calling a licensed expert to do the job.
Construction professionals aren’t discouraged by this trend; in fact, they’ve found it to be lucrative. They make more money fixing botched jobs that end up costing the homeowner a lot more money than if they’d never picked up a power tool or the “easy-to-follow” directions sheet to begin with.
It’s a shame EMS doesn’t have more power tools in its life-saving arsenal. If we did, I believe we could actually attract more interest in the profession—just like the fire service does. Just look at all the massive, powerful extrication munitions they carry.
How do you compete when all we have is an I-med pump versus a fire truck’s hydrant-water pump, an electrical cot versus a hydraulic ladder, an intraosseous drill versus the super powerful, hydraulic extrication devices, metal biting saws and pneumatic chisels they carry? Gosh, even orthopedic surgeons carry more bone chilling tools than we do. Maybe a pneumatic 50cc syringe gun would be a good start.
Until next time, remember these important words, “We give toy tools to boys to prepare them to behave like men, so that when they become men, they can have toys to behave like boys.” JEMS
This article originally appeared in January 2011 JEMS as “Home Improvement Trauma: Power tools aren’t for everyone.”