Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Amish sawmill worker died of a penetrating head wound after sawmill equipment kicked back at Omega Logging Inc., 21 Council Ave., Wheatland.

Amish worker dies in Mercer County industrial incident

Meadville Tribune

WHEATLAND, Mercer County, PA — A 37-year-old Amish worker was killed in an industrial incident Monday at Omega Logging Inc., 21 Council Ave., Wheatland.

Hermitage police and emergency responders were called at 1:54 p.m. and Mercer County Coroner John A. Libonati said Steven Yoder of New Wilmington was pronounced dead at 2:35 p.m. in UPMC Horizon, Farrell.

The incident was caused by a “kick back” from a piece of sawmill equipment, Libonati said, and Yoder died of a penetrating head wound.

Yoder was wearing safety equipment, police said.

Kickback happens when the wood hits the back of the blade or the wood binds. Common causes of kickback are:
  • the kerf closes behind the cut pinching the blade
  • a board is warped, cupped, twisted, etc and binds against the blade
  • the side of the wood against the table saw fence isn't straight
  • the blade isn't parallel to the fence
  • a cross cut is made without properly supporting the board and it twists into the blade
  • a cut-off gets trapped between blade and fence.
In each case, the velocity of the spinning blade can lift the board and send it flying. A piece of wood can fly so hard that can kill a worker, as it happened in this case.
Kickback is over before you are even aware it happened, so don't think you can react in time to pull your hand out of the way. You can't. 

Here are some tips to prevent getting injured by saw kickback on a table saw:
  1. The best way of preventing kickback is to use a riving knife or splitter and an anti-kickback device on your table saw. The riving knife and splitter will hold the kerf open behind the blade so the wood can't close on the cut.
  2. Don't pull the workpiece from the back side of the table saw, a kickback can yank your hand right into the blade. People do serious injury to their hands when the blade grabs the board pulling it and their hand into the blade.
  3. Don't use the fence when cross cutting narrow stock. There isn't enough wood against the fence to control the cut. Instead use the miter gauge to push the wood and leave your table saw fence to the side.
  4. Kickback often occurs when you're cutting large sheets of material. If you let the sheet sag down, the kerf can close and pinch the blade as you near the end of the cut.
  5. Keep your hands and body to one side of the line of cut.
  6. When using portable saws always maintain a firm grip on the saw and don't stretch so far over the workpiece that you're left in an awkward, unbalanced position.
  7. Make sure your wood is flat and the side against the fence is straight.
  8. Keep your blade parallel to the fence.
  9. Never try to free hand a cut.