An Inclusive Litany

8/29/01

A New York Times editorial criticized President Bush for operating his chainsaw while on vacation in Texas without using the protective helmet and Kevlar logging chaps required for forestry workers by the Forest Service Health and Safety Handbook. Editors of the Times, skilled outdoorsmen all, also advised using a "wraparound mesh face-mask and... aggressive hearing protection."

The Times cited a statistic from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, that 44,000 chainsaw users require hospitalization annually. But the appropriately named Smartertimes.com notes that the agency's actual figure from 1999 was 26,711. Despite the illusion of precision, that figure was determined by extrapolating from a survey of 100 emergency rooms from a total of 546 emergency room visits. Of those visits, only 2.6 percent required actual hospitalization. The statistic also includes any injury that involved a chainsaw but was not directly caused by it, such as having a tree fall on you.

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