Tempted to Remove Your Table Saw Guard? Think

I work as a building contractor in Minneapolis. A few weeks ago I was wrapping up a kitchen remodel. I had a lot to finish that day, so I had to move fast. I took the guard off of a table saw to make a couple of quick rips on a piece of base trim. A few minutes later I was rushing to the local emergency room.

The next week I had to undergo surgery to reattach a tendon to my index finger, and now my hand is in a splint for six weeks.

I’ve worked around table saws for years. I’m aware of the risks, but I never imagined actually cutting my hand while using one. It happened so quickly, but the aftermath drags on: stitches, surgery, a cast, a splint, pain medication, antibiotics, physical therapy, more antibiotics, more therapy, lost work and lost wages — all from literally letting my guard down for a few seconds.

Frequent use of power tools can lead to complacency. I got too comfortable. It’s tempting to cut corners when it comes to safety, especially when you see the finish line at the end of a project. And it can happen to anyone. If you are in a hurry, slow down. If you’re tired, hungry or distracted, take a break. If you’re inclined to leave your safety glasses or hearing protection on a hook above the workbench, think again. If you are tempted to remove the guard on any power tool, stop! The seconds you save in a safety shortcut may cost you a lot more than you bargained for, no matter how experienced you are.