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Experience Not Always the Best Prescription for Snowblowers
Date:2/27/2009

  • older snowblower machines
  • denser snow associated with higher temperatures
  • misperceptions about snowblower design
  • Some of the study's results seem to be counterintuitive, said Dr. Master.

    "Typically, you might expect injuries to be greater with an operator who has little experience with the snowblower," he noted. "But our study found the opposite to be true. The reason may be that when operators feel experienced with their machines, they develop a false sense of confidence and become a little more careless."

    Operators may also be confused about the design of their machines, he said.

    "Most injuries occur when the operator tries to unclog the exit chute by reaching into the chute's opening when the machine is still running," Dr. Master noted. "What the operator doesn't realize is that there are two blades on a snowblower -- the one in front of the machine that can be seen and a second blade, the impeller blade, which throws the snow out of the exit chute. This impeller blade cannot be seen and causes injuries in most cases."

    Dr. Master further explained that, "patients can also injure themselves when the machine is not running because clogged impeller blades retain stored energy in the elastic drive belts of the machine. As such, once a clog has been removed from the blades, the drive belts are free to release that stored energy causing the blades to spin again, potentially leading to significant injury."

    The study concludes that additional safety features for snowblowers would aid in reducing hand injuries (http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00014), and recommends design elements such as chute openings that would prevent operators from inserting their
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    SOURCE American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
    Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
    All rights reserved

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