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In light of recent events, I began thinking about safety. Now Iím not a safety expert, but Iíve been able to stay safe most of my life.

Safety practices apply to every endeavor, including photography. Always be aware of your surroundings. Be aware of the weather. Make sure all of your tools are functioning properly. If safety equipment is required, use it. Forgetting safety, even for a moment, can prove disastrous.

My work often requires me to use various types of metal working machinery. Iíve been using these types of machines for almost 40 years. Iíve always tried to maintain a safe working environment. Safety Glasses, Work gloves, clean work area to mention a few.

Yesterday I violated one of the rules and paid the price. I had my safety glasses on. I had my work area clean. I had my gloves on. I was using one of the simplest of the machines, a Drill Press. My mistake was that I was not giving my work 100% of my attention. I was drilling mounting holes in some aluminum brackets I was making. The machine is very simple to operate. Itís almost second nature to me. As a result, I was thinking about an upcoming trip to photograph butterflies, and only half concentrating on my work. At this point, I must also add that my work gloves were beginning to fray, and I had been planning to order a new pair, but procrastination prevailed.

Needless to say, one of the frayed parts of the gloves thumb hooked on a drill bit and my hand was pulled into the drill. I quickly hit the off button so I was spared severe of injury.

What did happen was the first joint of my thumb (closest to the nail) was bent backwards about 45 degrees beyond normal. Official diagnosis in the ER was ďDislocated, with resulting tendon damageĒ. Iím now scheduled for a visit with an orthopedic specialist on Tuesday. Needless to say, I will be without use of my left thumb for three or more weeks.

I did try using my camera (with some difficulty). Having a metal splint on my thumb makes things difficult. With patience, I can get the job done, and I may still try the butterfly shoot. In the mean time, enjoy a couple of shots of my thumb. I took these last night. The thumb has now turned completely blue. It looks like it belongs on Papa Smurf.

Canon EOS Rebel XS or Nikon D3000?-dsc_6619.jpg
Canon EOS Rebel XS or Nikon D3000?-dsc_6620.jpg
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  1. Vermontster's Avatar
    This is a good thread Mike. Since participating on the Nikonites site, I have put my self in a few hairy situations to capture a photograph. In one instance I was trying to capture a covered bridge with extremely high flood waters flowing under it. I certainly thought of safety because falling into the river would have resulted in death. When I finished shooting, I took a step backwards and stumbled on a small rock. In a not too graceful manner I tried maintaining my balance to prevent falling in the river. I ended up falling anyway, but away from the river. My D90, however, slammed me in the face, puncturing 4 teeth holes into my lip and bloodying my nose. My mouth looked like your thumb for a few days.

    Most of the time I am alone and in secluded places when I go out landscape shooting. I now let someone know where I am.
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    Updated 06-16-2011 at 05:50 PM by fotojack
  2. Rick M's Avatar
    Very good advice Mike, so often we overlook safety and sometimes our luck runs out.
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  3. jcottone45's Avatar
    Mike I am glad to hear your injury was minor, your advice is priceless though & worth printing & repeating as often as possible to reach as many as possible.
    Let's hope you heal quickly so that you can get back to normal in all activities.
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    Updated 06-16-2011 at 05:50 PM by fotojack
  4. Mike150's Avatar
    I went to the Orthopedic Surgeon today.
    After careful examination, he gave me the good news and the bad news.
    Good News: I didn't break any bones
    Bad News: I didn't break any bones.

    I've torn the ligaments on both sides of the joint. Broken bones would have healed in about 6 weeks. Ligaments will heal in about 6 months (or longer). They will also be very painful in respect to any movement or banging it against something...
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  5. Vermontster's Avatar
    Mike, We are all rooting for you to have a speedy and painless as possible recovery. Good luck with the rehab!
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  6. Browncoat's Avatar
    Ouch! On the bright side though, you were lucky. I know someone in a very similar situation who was not so lucky and had his thumb nearly pulled off as he was not able to power the machine off quickly enough. The result was both bones in his thumb being completely shattered and he needed over 50 metal pins to repair the damage. That was almost 10 years ago now, and to this day, he still doesn't have full use of his thumb.
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  7. Kim20's Avatar
    OUCH! That smarts, not only the thumb, but also the pride. It only takes a second for disaster to strike. My good friends went for a camping trip last weekend, turned their backs for only a few minutes, each thinking the other was watching the 2 year old. Next thing they knew, he was under water and it turned out as bad as possible. The little boys life was cut short. They really have a fabulous family, and are great parents. My greatest hope for them, is to have their relationship survive. Always there is more than one victim, there are 3 other brothers as well as the other family members. My heart goes out to the whole family.
    Be careful everyone, we don't always get a second chance.
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