Glue Spreader Can Be a Career Ender

      A severe glue spreader accident is a sobering reminder of the risks of cabinet work. (Caution: Graphic and disturbing images.) June 4, 2012

I had some glue drop from the spreader roller onto the bottom roller. I made the bad decision to wipe the bottom roller with a rag while the machine was running. It grabbed the rag and pulled my hand and arm through up to the elbow. I have lost all function and several muscle groups had to be removed. I underestimated how dangerous this machine was. No cutter or blade, so I failed to be intimidated by it. This may well be a career ender for me. Every machine in your shop has the ability to disfigure and mutilate a human body! I wish I had thought this through a little better.

Forum Responses
(Dust Collection and Safety Equipment Forum)
From Gary Katz, forum technical advisor:
I'm really sorry this happened to you. What a horrendous accident - that's why they are called accidents, but I know exactly what you mean about not paying attention. Thirty years ago I lost the vision in my left eye to a bungee cord. There are so many ways in our business to get seriously hurt. I wish you a speedy recovery and hope you're able to regain the complete use of your arm, hand, and fingers.

From contributor S:
I'm sorry this has happened to you. Hopefully recovery is going along smooth as one can hope and I wish you well. We too have a glue spreader. We use it every day and often I sense our staff feels indestructible, especially around this machine and the pod press. I will print this thread off and use it as a safety training tool for our shop staff. Your injury, while tragic, will save others injury and potentially their life.

From contributor U:
First, let me wish you a speedy and full recovery. Follow the therapist's directions and do your best to regain as much use as possible. Second, thanks for posting. Real world situations are much more meaningful than warnings and anecdotal evidence. Third, can you address what safety measures were in place? Guards, panic bars and stop flaps are common on glue spreaders - were these all in place and did they help minimize damage? Were any factory guards missing or overridden? Could there have been some additional guard that would have prevented this injury?

From the original questioner:
The machine had everything as it came from the factory. It was a 2009 model year. After looking at other systems it is obvious that we have a machine with little regard for safety paid by the designer. It is being replaced for a system with multiple e stops including one right before the pinch point.

From contributor G:
I wish you the best of luck on your recovery. This type of accident is quite common with glue spreaders. A worker at a shop I used to work at many years ago completely lost his arm to a glue spreader. As you said they are deceptively dangerous.

From contributor H:
Unexpectedly accidents can occur quickly and I've come myself a number of times over the years. I think it is worthy of being mentioned here so maybe we all will be forced to consider the seriousness of seemingly innocent actions.

From contributor T:
Thanks for posting this. I had a coworker 15 years ago who had the same accident. He didn't get torn up like this because the spreader was open to the max for cleaning, but his forearm was flattened to the bone and he was disabled for over a month. We made copies of the images and put them up by our glue spreader. If my crew lapses into carelessness and fails to use long handled ladles for scooping out excess glue and mops or sponges on long handles to do the final cleaning all of the sudden they are paying attention again.

From contributor H:
A few weeks ago I watched one of my guys reach across and behind the tablesaw blade to pull a narrow board through. Even though the spreader was in place, and even though we have a SawStop table saw, I did a remedial lesson on table saw use. I made them look at Google Images of table saw hand injuries with me. Not fun I assure you.

We have a weekly maintenance schedule on the first through fourth Mondays of the month - a different group of machines for each Monday. Every time a month has a fifth Monday we do a safety review on all equipment. This point about not reaching behind the blade is right on that safety review sheet. Mental lapses, or the "nothing is going to happen" mindset still occurs though.

From contributor S:
Iíve called meetings with our shop personnel in groups of five. I began the typical safety speech. Glasses, guards, etc. Each group had the glazed over look. I asked each group to follow me to our glue spreader. Several groups do not ever work at the glue spreader and I went on with telling them about how dangerous the spreader is and how we get complacent. Several guys acted as if I was way off base. Then I mentioned this story and it really made an impact. A few guys about lost their cookies.

Prior to this, guys wore safety glasses on the head, backwards, or not at all. Since this story our staff has worn glasses 100% of the time. I hope people use this valuable tool. I also wish for a speedy and healthy recovery.

From contributor O:
Wow, this is the stuff of my nightmares. Most of us remember to be cautious around spinning blades but fail at remembering other far less obvious dangers in the work place and home. Ladders, wood piles, carrying boards, and others who might not be watching out for what you are doing in the shop are some examples.

I had a stack of plywood tilt over on me once and it pinned me to a wall and broke my phone. Thankfully thatís all the damage that occurred but a friend who works as a contractor had the same thing happen with sheet rock. He broke his leg and is temporarily out of work and has to go to therapy to recover.

When I was a kitchen manager I always gave a walking tour once or twice a month to my staff to point out the dangers in the kitchen, and how to lift boxes, etc. We had a mixer that just about scared me to death - industrial mixers can be really dangerous. In school they out lined safety and told stories about getting your arms pulled off, I believe it! While none of this compares to your accident it illustrates the need for safety precautions, even in unobvious situations. I canít say how much I wish you a speedy recovery. Try your best at therapy - it wonít be easy but stick with it. Thanks for sharing, hopefully this will help others in their decision making when purchasing, training, and operating equipment.

From the original questioner:
Well, I am healing and back to work. It has taken a lot of adaptation to learn to work with limited function and feeling in my left hand. I do have hopes for an almost full recovery after another surgery. All of the machines now scare the hell out of me and illicit a physical response of nausea and sweating. I am told this will lessen over time. Attached is a picture of my arm and some work I have done since the injury. I think I might make it and continue in the profession I so enjoy.

Click here for higher quality, full size image

Click here for higher quality, full size image

Click here for higher quality, full size image

From contributor G:
That is good to hear, best of luck on your continued recovery.

From contributor E:
I too am glad to hear of your recovery. Do post again in another three months on your progress. Speaking from experience, your fears will start to subside after you've been back at it for a while.

From contributor O:
I'm really happy for you and wish you lots of luck in your return to work!

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