I had my first kickback yesterday. I was cutting about 6 inches off of a 27 x 17 piece of 3/4 melamine particleboard. Got hit with the 21 x 17 piece in my belly just above the belt. Real lucky, superficial damage that hurt pretty good for a while.
Looking back there were several things that I think may have contributed to the incident.
1. I'm wondering if my saw (table surface) is too small for what i've been doing with it. I have a Ryobi BTS20 and it's a great tool but a small table. It has a pullout outfeed device, which I had pulled out fully, but there is a gap between the table and the outfeed support. I had checked to see if the piece would land on the support properly and it did, but I wonder if I was thinking about it while making the cut.
2. The guard and splitter were removed because I didn't want to risk the anti-kickback pawls damaging the melamine surface.
3. I had just yesterday waxed the table and fence for the first time. Previously there was quite a bit of friction when pushing material through the blade and I don't think I had adjusted yet to the now smooth and faster feed rate.
4. The cut was complete and I was focusing on the cut-off in case it came flying back and I think I was reaching to remove it. The good piece twisted ever so slightly into the blade when I reached. I noticed the saw sounded laboured, suddenly realized what was happening, then before I could react it threw the piece.
5. I guess I was standing in the wrong place as well. I was behind the good piece. Not really sure about this though.
I think this mishap would have been prevented, or at least minimised, by having a splitter to install when the guard is removed or by having a second guard/splitter to install with the pawls removed.
Feel free to comment, I would like to be able to improve my methods so this doesn't happen again. Hopefully someone else will learn from my mistake.