Assume you are using your blade guard. Suddenly, you find you hand/fingers bumping the guard. Why did that happen in the first place?
Your hands/fingers were in the wrong place to start with.... :frown2:
Now, assume the blade guard is not ON in the same instance, proper hand/finger placement would prevent any blade contact. This means keeping them away from the "red zone" on the throat plate at all times.
It also means using proper push blocks/shoes/stick and knowing when to use each type. Each type applies forces in a very different way, and those forces are necessary to feed the workpiece ALL the way through and past the end of the blade. Those forces also need to keep the workpiece pressed against the fence for the entire cutting operation. WHY?
Kickback occurs when the far end of the workpiece loses contact with the fence at the rear and rotates up and over the spinning blade, sending it back towards the operator. I've had it happen more time than it should, so I know now what causes it. It mostly occured on plywood panels, and careless feeding techniques. The use of a splitter will prevent most if not all of these issues.
Usually, the blade guard is attached to the splitter as it was on my Craftsman saws. It often got in the way of the push shoe when ripping narrow stock, it was totally frustrating. So, I drilled out the rivets that secured the plastic blade cover and the anti-kick back pawls which also impeded certain ripping operations, so they were GONE! That left just the vertical splitter plate remaining and that's all I use now, except for the pivoting plywood cover I mentioned above.