Circular Saw Accidents and Injuries — How Safe is it to Use in a Wood Shop?

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Despite the many uses of a circular saw in the woodworking industry, it’s hard to ignore how many accidents it has caused over the years. In fact, not being aware of its risks could lead to reckless usage.

In light of this, our resident woodworkers listed facts you need to know about circular saw accidents so that you can stay vigilant while using this tool. 

Table of Contents

Circular Saw Injuries and Accidents Stats

Although circular saw mishaps are more common in a commercial setting, newbies and casual woodworkers are also involved in a fair share of accidents while using this powerful tool. 

According to a detailed analysis, around 70% of these incidents happen when the operator feeds the material into the tool. 

In a study published online in 2019, researchers claimed that 98.1% of the patients who suffered traumatic upper limb injuries because of circular saws are male. 

The medical records from two years also show that most operators sustaining circular saw-related injuries are manual workers and right-handed.  

Circular Saw-Related Deaths Per Year

While it’s true that yearly records of woodworking accidents and circular saw-related injuries are relatively high, these accidents don’t often result in fatalities. In fact, consolidated data about deaths caused by these power tools are hard to find, no matter how much you look. 

cutting stainless steel with circular saw

However, it’s crucial to point out that Consumer Product Safety Commission the general count for yearly deaths caused by power tools is 200. 

And given that circular saws belong to the category of dangerous powered saws, it’s safe to assume that this tool contributes to that statistic. 

Also, there are risks when sharpening a circular saw blade, that’s why it must be handled with care at all times. 

Most Common Injuries From a Circular Saw

Our team previously stated that most accidents happen during the material feeding process. 

Because of this, it’s not surprising that most injuries recorded for these mishaps are finger lesions. Lacerations on the operator’s hands are also common, with many ending in amputations. 

How Many Accidents Happen From Circular Saw Blades?

Around 40,000 victims have been rushed to hospital emergency rooms annually due to injuries obtained from powered saws, based on National Consumers League’s reports. Out of all these patients, 4,000 people end up being amputated. 

cutting wood with circular saw

In another analysis from the National Library of Medicine, the research indicates that 9 out of 85 or 10.6% of recorded traumatic upper limb injuries [1] are from circular wood saws. 

Circular Saw Kickback Injuries

It’s no secret that kickbacks are the common culprit of saw-related injuries, regardless of what power tool. Out of the 104 saw-related accidents indicated in research published in 2019, 49 happened because of this phenomenon. 

Typically, it occurs when the blade gets jammed with the material. It’ll make the saw retract backward to the user’s hand or leg. 

Why Do Circular Saw or Skil Saw Accidents Happen? (Common Hazards)

When the blade you’re using has a missing tooth, the chances of experiencing kickback are higher than expected. 

circular saw kick back

It’s also the case when you use damaged and worn-out blades. Operators are also at risk of being struck by material projectiles if the blade guard isn’t properly mounted on the tool. 

Manufacturing and Design Defects

While blade guards are advertised to prevent these unfortunate incidents, it’s crucial to point out that most circular saw-related injuries still happen even when this feature is installed. In other words, these safety features aren’t sufficient to keep operators safe from harm. 

However, some manufacturers already equip their products with mechanisms halting the blade in milliseconds soon as it detects any contact. The only problem is not every model has this safety function. Some are still developing the technology. 

What Not to Do With a Circular Saw: Safety and Preventive Measures

First of all, some materials require specific blade types and sizes, depending on the size of a circular saw. If you use blades with the wrong specification, you’re more likely to experience these accidents.  

operating a circular saw

During the operation, use two hands as much as possible. It will keep your material or tool stable and prevent mishaps. 

Don’t forget to use protective eyewear and gloves when operating a circular saw. By doing this, you can prevent severe injuries when unexpected accidents happen. 

Also, it’s advisable to know how to properly store your circular saw so it won’t harm you or other while it’s not in use. 

FAQ

How common are accidents with a circular saw?

Accidents involving a circular saw are very common. Over the past few years, a study showed that 9 out of 85 traumatic upper limb injuries recorded over a 2-year period are caused by this tool. 

Must Read: Table Saws Injuries Study

How safe is a circular saw?

A circular saw can be safe if you’re well-versed in the tool’s usage and wearing proper safety gear. The risk of being hit by projectiles can be minimized by ensuring that you’re using a good-conditioned blade with the right specifications. 

How do you stop a circular saw kickback?

You can stop a circular saw kickback by ensuring the blade is always in good condition. These incidents are also less likely if the material is properly mounted and the cutting depth is set as shallow.

Conclusion

Besides the technical solutions to avoid circular saw accidents, your skill level and familiarity with the tool are also crucial. 

Our resident woodworkers highly recommend newbies and casual operators practice extra caution during the cutting operations. If you can, don’t forego wearing safety gear, as this could protect you from potential injuries. 

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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