Coolangatta resident Andrew Armstrong lost four fingers using electric power tools.
Coolangatta resident Andrew Armstrong lost four fingers using electric power tools. Scott Powick

Man warns others after losing fingers in DIY mishap

ANDREW Armstrong's life changed when he was on his lunch break from work undertaking a mundane chore in the shed of his Tweed home.

The Coolangatta architect was setting up a new practice and had made a quick dash home to cut a couple of pieces of timber to take back to the office, something he never considered would have the repercussions it did.

Mr Armstrong powered up the dropsaw and made his mark, he dropped the blade and it kicked in a way he hadn't expected. Instinctively he went to grab it as someone would if trying to stop something they've knocked from falling to the ground.

"I thought, 'gee, that was close',” he said, reflecting on the August 2015 incident.

But it was more than that.

Despite feeling no immediate pain, when Mr Armstrong looked at his hand he was shocked to see he was missing four fingers.

A quick trip to the hospital ensued, surgeons tried to reattach the body parts, then Mr Armstrong and his family played a waiting game to see if they would take.

Two didn't.

He now has a thumb, a pinky and a part of his index finger on his left hand.

The others had to be amputated.

Since then Mr Armstrong has been campaigning to warn other weekend warriors about the risks involved with using gear and performing tasks when they've had little or no proper training.

"The numbers are increasing,” he said. "In 2012 there were 25,000 medical interventions due to do-it-yourself injuries in Australia.”

Mr Armstrong said it wasn't until he began to look deeper into the number of injuries attributed to the DIY market that he realised his case wasn't unusual.

He uncovered journal and media articles, calls for the issue to be addressed, and suddenly he realised it was a much bigger problem than most realised.

The architect is now lobbying for a co-ordinated approach to educate people on the dangers of DIY. He says governments, tool manufacturers, retailers and those who profit from the market should be involved.

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