Consumer Product Safety

NITE Alert_65

February 18, 2005

Alert - Accident caused by snow blowers

There have been multiple accidents associated with snow blowers in winter this year; with 10 cases reported to the National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE) over the two months from December 2004 to January 2005.
NITE previously issued “NITE Alert" (No.46) on December 10, 2001 as a preventive step; however, 10 cases have been reported over the two recent months. Meanwhile, manufacturers have been distributing items to prevent similar accidents. In response to the situation, NITE provides information on the latest accidents and issues the alert once again.

1.Latest accidents

  • During snow removing work at home, a male user severed his right middle finger when he tried to remove the snow clogging the rotary blades while the engine was running. Once the snow was cleared the blades immediately started spinning, and the tip of the user's middle finger was severed.
  • During snow removing work in front of the garage at home, a female user severed her forefinger when she tried to remove a glove entangled in the rotary blades while the engine was running.
  • A man was caught between the rotary blades of a compact snow blower and killed while engaged in snow removing work at home.
  • A man fell over in front of a snow blower during snow removing work at home. His left foot was trapped in the rotors and he suffered serious injuries including a broken left ankle.
  • After using the snow blower to blow snow to the left side, the user declutched and stopped the snow blower to discharge snow in the shooter. When he was removing the snow with his hand, the disengaged rotating section started turning. The user suffered a severed forefinger and middle finger, and lacerations.

Other accident cases that have been reported include hand injuries incurred when touching the rotating sections without switching the device off, and injuries caused when users fell over and caught parts of the body in the rotating sections, etc.

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2.Safety precautions

  1. (1)Never allow any part of the body to come in contact with rotating parts when the engine is running or when the rotating parts are turning.

When removing clogged snow, be sure to use a snow shovel or other suitable implement after making sure that the engine has been switched off and the rotating parts are completely stationary.


When approaching the blower section, always switch off the  engine and make sure that the rotary parts are completely stationary before commencing work..


  1. (2)When removing snow, pay attention to surrounding ground conditions and obstacles to avoid tripping over or becoming trapped between the snow blower and other objects.

Be sure to watch your step and look out for any obstacles behind you to avoid tripping over or being trapped between the snow blower and an obstacle when reversing.


  1. (3)If the snow blower is equipped with a safety device, always read the instructions and use it properly.

Always read the manual thoroughly and take time to fully understand the correct operating technique before operating the device.


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3.Actions taken by manufacturers

The Snow-blower Safety Council, which consists of snowplow manufacturers, has been supplying walk-behind snow blowers equipped with a dead-man's clutch (a control device that automatically stops the power supply to the drive mechanism when the operator releases the controls). The device was an optional feature that users could select depending on usage. However, units sold after April 2004 include the dead-man's clutch as standard in order to improve safety. The Council urges users who have snow blowers that are not equipped with a dead-man's clutch, to consider replacing their current models with one that is equipped with this safety device.

Fore more information;
National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE)
Product Safety Technology Center, Product Safety Investigation Division

Contact us

 Risk Analysis and Public Relations Division  Product Safety Technology Center  National Institute of Technology and Evaluation
Phone number:+81-6-6612-2066
Fax number:+81-6-6612-1617
Address:1-22-16, Nankokita, Suminoe-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka 559-0034 Japan MAP