Safety and OSHA News

Worker loses hand in paper cutter

Could a moment of distraction have caused a worker to lose his right hand?

Cal-OSHA is investigating an incident at Gafix Screen Printing in Cotati.

Reports say Lon Martinsen had his hand cut off while working with a large, electric paper cutter.

The company’s office manager, Michele Holman, said Martinsen was cutting vinyl material used to make stickers and decals. “He said it just came down on him, so he must have been distracted,” Holman said.

Co-workers responded quickly, using T-shirts and towels to create a tourniquet to try to stop the bleeding.

Martinsen was conscious through the incident.

He was taken to a local hospital and then transferred to one in San Francisco where doctors hoped they could reattach his hand.

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  1. I am curious if they actually used a tourniquet or if they just used those materials to apply pressure. I thought tourniquets were a no-no unless your stranded in the middle of nowhere?

  2. Having been in that type of business and used a large cutter, I find it hard to believe that you can cut off your own hand with all the safety devices in place, foot pedal to lower clamp, both hand switches must be push to activate the increased clamp pressure and drop the knife onto the stock. One should question the age of the machine and it’s operation.

  3. I’m wonder what’s the “so-what”. Ok – the operator lost his hand and admitted he was distracted. What did the company do next? What happened as a result of this accident? Was the machine guarded in some fashion? Were the guards intact or bypassed by the operator?

    I often wish these articles gave more details as to the result.

  4. A tourniquet would be the right choice in this case because it was at the end of the arm. There would have been no other organs or tissues needing the blood because the hand is the end of the line. You are right that a tourniquet would not be proper in the femur artery (upper thigh) or other areas when blood travel to other body parts would be necessary. I am not sure if direct pressure would have slowed the bleeding from the major pulsating artery in the wrist but I am pulling this info from training because I am not an EMT. Is there a Doctor in the house that may answer this more accurately?

  5. Michael Huber says:

    I work for a printing company and a paper cutter requires both hands to be on levers and 1 foot on a peddle. If this worker cut his hand of a cutter he had to have bypassed the controls built on the cutter. While this is a workers’ comp issue it is not necessarily negligence of the employer, it could be negligence of the worker.

  6. Another Sue says:

    The article doesn’t mention the guillotine type cutters the workers in the printing industry refer to. There is a chance this type of cutter works differently (without two-hand operation) I am picturing a different type of equipment without all the safeguards the guillotine-type cutters offer. It is a shame we can’t have “…the rest of the story”. It would tell us so much.

  7. Even though modern paper cutters have built in safety measures to prevent injuries, this story proves you can still be hurt if you’re not careful and paying attention. Hopefully, the doctors were able to re-attach his hand.

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