Miter Saw Injuries and Accidents in the Wood Shop

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From my experience working with various tools, I can’t stress enough how miter saws, with their high-speed metal blades, can pose a risk if not handled correctly. I’ve seen more accidents and injuries with them than many of us in the woodworking community care to admit.

To give you a clear picture, I’ve gathered the latest statistics on miter saw injuries. It’s crucial to understand these numbers to appreciate the importance of being cautious when using this tool.

Table of Contents

How Miter Saws Work

Like any other power tool, miter saws run with powerful engines that ignite force to make the blades spin. These machines have on and off switches, which you can use to start and shut down the tool. 

Design-wise, a miter saw has many similarities to circular saws. You can rely on it if your project requires angled and miter cuts that suit various jointing techniques. 

Miter Saw Accidents and Injuries Stats

Based on the report from the Woodworkers Guild of America, miter saw-related injuries range around 6,800 per year. These statistics also led me to conclude that most of these accidents involving woodworking happen when the tool isn’t properly installed on the table or bench. 

The data shows that most injuries are obtained by placing fingers too close to the blade, cutting intricate pieces, and unexpected kickbacks.  

Dangers and Hazards of Using a Miter Saw

Injuries resulting from miter saw operations are often a result of improper usage. As mentioned earlier, keeping fingers too close to the blade can result in accidental skin contact. Additionally, the machine’s infeed can lead to unexpected kickbacks, potentially propelling the wood towards the operator. It is essential to exercise caution and follow proper safety procedures to mitigate these risks.

And since this machine produces dust, users not wearing proper safety equipment could experience health risks.  

cutting wood with miter saw

Accidents during tool maintenance are also common, especially for newbie users. You should be cautious of certain hazards when cleaning or repairing a miter saw, like direct blade contact, sudden impact, and entanglement.

Miter Saw Related Accidents and Injuries

Eye Injuries

Although most miter saws include dust bags to trap dust during cutting operations, it’s not guaranteed that these things won’t fly around the woodshop. Because of this, sawdust [1] can expose your eyes to potential injuries during usage. 

eye protective gear

In my years at the workshop, I’ve seen more than just dust fly. Loose parts and sliced materials can give your eyes a real beating if you’re not wearing something like goggles to protect them. And a little tip from someone who’s been there – always give those clamps holding down your material a good check for security. Safety first, always.

Ear Injuries

Miter saws run on powerful motor engines, so it’s not surprising that these tools produce noise during the cutting operation. The sound of the material being cut also adds to the noise you have to endure. 

All these noise sources can damage your hearing. Fortunately, you can opt to use ear plugs or muffs to prevent any ear injury. 

Off-Hand Injuries

These injuries refer to the hand assisting the material rather than the one controlling the miter saw. These unfortunate incidents can happen when the operator decides not to use the clamp to secure the material and resorts to pulling it toward the blade instead.

Miter Saw-Related Deaths Per Year

While miter saws undoubtedly cause several accidents annually, there is barely any information about fatalities related to the tool’s usage. Typically, these severe incidents lead to wounding or amputations. 

operating miter saw

Miter Saw Safety Rules and Precautions

Before you dive into using a miter saw, let me share a nugget of wisdom from my years on the bench: always ensure the blade guard is positioned rightly. If you spot any damage, replace it without a second thought – it’s a non-negotiable for safe operation. And here’s another pro tip: opt for using clamps to hold your material instead of guiding it manually. It significantly lowers the risk of an unintended meet-up with the blade. Stay safe and let the tools do the tough work!

On-Off Controls

These features come in two variations; the spring-loaded trigger and pre-travel. The latter has a higher chance of staring unintentionally than spring-loaded ones, as these controls include unique motions. 

Legal and Civil Rights

It is important for miter saw owners/users understand the liability laws about their area. Manufacturers of all tools, including miter saws like DWS779 and DWS780, are legally responsible to bring out products that are safe for the intended users.

making a bevel cut on a miter saw

Miter saw users subjected to injuries caused by a defective product are legally eligible to file a lawsuit against the saw manufacturer to recover for the damages caused.

Civil Complaints about Personal Injuries

Unlike criminal laws, initiated by the government; a civil “complaint” or a “lawsuit” is filed by an injured private individual against another person, a company or even a government agency, alleging their carelessness or irresponsibility that led to the injury.

The complaint in a personal injury case identifies the parties to the lawsuit, which in the case of a miter saw the accident, is the manufacturer. It describes the problem associated with the miter saw and specifies the compensation the plaintiff is seeking.

All the facts, including the model and make of the miter saw used, the type of blade used in the saw at the time of accident, the guards on the saw (if any), problem with the saw, occurrence of the accident, the damage caused and everything that the plaintiff (the individual) will attempt to prove in the court of law, will be noted.

Investigation and Settlement

A thorough investigation will be performed based on the “complaint.” Most cases are solved through a settlement agreement by the manufacturer. Others are based on a judgment after a court trial. 

hands close to miter saw blade

Settlements may be either a lump-sum amount paid to the individual or payments made over some time, agreed upon by both the parties.

Let’s take the example of a former bricklayer, whose left hand was mangled in an accident involving an electric miter saw while making miter saw projects. He asked for $10 million in punitive damages. The court found the award excessive and advised a reduced compensation of $5 million.

In another case, the worker was gluing the wood floor pieces down and while doing that, he used a miter saw to cut the pieces to fit the floor. During one such cutting session, he was making a straight cut to take two inches off of a long piece of wood. 

He slipped when his right hand was on the carriage handle and the left hand was still under the blade. He sustained injuries and was transferred to a hospital. Inspection of the miter saw he was using, revealed that it was in good condition and functioning properly.

hand injury

While I don’t have access to the specific outcomes of these cases, it’s essential to know that you do have legal recourse if you’ve suffered damage due to a miter saw. You can take the manufacturer to civil court. However, I want to emphasize the importance of securing a competent accident lawyer. They play a crucial role in conducting a thorough investigation to gather every detail related to the accident.


How many miter saw accidents occur per year?

Around 6,800 miter saw accidents occur per year based on the most recent reports. These incidents include causes like kickbacks, blade contact, and entanglement.

What is the biggest hazard when using a miter saw?

The biggest hazard when using a miter saw is material entanglement which often leads to blade contact. Next to this incident, kickbacks from feeding wood pieces are also significant hazards users should be wary about. 

Is a miter saw safer than a table saw?

Yes, a miter saw is safer to use than a table saw. Its safety is relative to the tool’s smaller size and lighter weight.

Is a miter saw safer than a circular saw?

Yes, a miter saw is safer to use than a circular saw. However, the latter offers more versatility with the ability to execute crosscuts and rip cuts.

How do I stop my miter saw from kickback?

You can stop your miter saw from kickback by setting the right bevel and miter configurations. Ensuring that the blade is mounted tightly also prevents this incident. from happening

Can a beginner use a miter saw?

Yes, a beginner can use a miter saw because it’s easy to control. It’s also versatile enough to tackle different projects. 


Navigating through the yearly statistics of miter saw injuries, I grasp why you might harbor doubts about the tool’s safety. But speaking from my woodworking journey, I can assure you that the miter saw is one of the more beginner-friendly cutting tools out there. Your safety boils down to how seriously you take the precautions – trust me, with diligent practice of safety measures, achieving accident-free use of a miter saw is entirely within reach.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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