Snow Blower Injuries on the Rise
Jan 30, 2014
Cortlandt Manor, NY
Hudson Valley residents have had to clear away a lot of snow this winter, resulting in many opportunities for winter accidents.
While snow blowers are an essential tool at this time of year, their use also results in many hand injuries.
Dr. Ari Mayerfield of NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital’s Hand Center said that every year he sees patients who suffer from a variety of injuries sustained from snow blowers.
"Due to the improper handling of these machines, patients suffer from fingertip injuries, fractures, lacerations and amputated digits," said Mayerfield, a surgeon who specializes in injuries to the hand and upper extremity. Dr. Mayerfield works with hand therapists at the hospital’s Center for Rehabilitation to help those injured return to normal function.
Dr. Mayerfield said he would prefer to see people avoid injuries to start with. He said that a majority of injuries with snow blowers are caused when people try to clear clogs in the exit chute without turning off the machine.
"When snow becomes clogged in the exit chute of the machine, it causes a jam. The operator will then inspect the blower, and this is when the majority of injuries occur. The operator's hand will come in contact with the rotating blades while using his/her hand to clear the snow," he said.
- He suggested that snow blower users follow these tips:
- Turn off the machine
- Wait for a minute to give the blades time to stop rotating
- Keep your hands clear of the exit chute and blades
- NEVER use your hands to clear the snow - use a stick to clear the clogged chute
- Keep snowblower safety shields in place
- Never allow children to use the snowblower
Nefretiri Butcher, an occupational therapist with HVHC’s Hand Center, said even those who use low-tech snow removing equipment are subject to injuries of the hand and back if they don’t take proper precautions. She suggests that those shoveling snow should follow these tips:
- Shovel fresh snow: Fresh powdery snow is easier to shovel than the wet, packed-down variety.
- Push the snow as you shovel: It's easier on your back than lifting the snow out of the way.
- Don't pick up too much at once: Use a light shovel (e.g. aluminum). Use a small shovel, or fill only one-fourth or one-half of a large one.
- Lift with your legs bent, not your back. Keep your back straight. By bending and "sitting" into the movement, you'll keep your spine upright and less stressed. Your shoulders, torso and thighs can do the work for you.
If you have a hand or wrist issue either routine or emergency, you can contact Dr. Mayerfield at 914-293-8700. If you need hand therapy call the Hand Center at 914-734-3251.
NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital is dedicated to serving the health care needs of the community and to providing quality, comprehensive medical care in a compassionate, professional, respectful manner, without regard to race, religion, national origin or disease category. Offering state-of-the-art diagnostic treatment, education and preventive services, the Hospital is committed to improving the quality of life in the community. In fulfilling this mission, the Hospital will strive to continuously improve the care provided and develop and offer programs, facilities, systems and alliances that most effectively respond to community health care needs. NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital is located on Route 202 (1980 Crompond Road) in Cortlandt Manor, New York. Call 914-737-9000 or visit hvhc.npgdev.com.