Woodworking has been synonymous with craftsmanship over the years. However, most people fail to understand that it doesn’t come with a hazard-free environment. Depending on your tool and skill, your exposure to woodworking accidents highly varies.
So, let’s dig into some recent stats and really get into what you should be aware of when it comes to safety in the workshop.
Table of Contents
Woodworking Injuries Statistics
According to epidemiologic research and survey, over 720,000 people suffer from woodworking injuries every year. Most of these incidents involve using power tools that often lead to physical and psychological impairment, like chronic pain.
The data concludes that over 60.5% of these accidents affected amateur woodworkers unfamiliar with woodworking tools. It also indicates that table saws cover 42% of the overall records collected during the survey, and 37% lead to the amputation of a finger and other body parts.
The injuries caused by woodshop machinery are rarely life-threatening. While most get rushed to the emergency room, only 27% of injured respondents are confined.
Given its relevance in every workshop, I wasn’t surprised to discover that over 40,000 injuries annually are related to table saw usage.
According to National Consumers League (NCL), 4,000 cases from these accident records result in amputations. If you do the math, that’s around ten amputations per day.
Most manufacturers still advertise blade guard features as an effective method to prevent injuries caused by a table saw.
And while operating this power tool without a blade guard is clearly dangerous, the truth is it’s not a guarantee that its saw blade won’t cause you injury.
Fortunately, this machine has preventive mechanisms that halt the saw blade from operating in a split second once skin contact is detected.
Now, feather boards are something I swear by. These little gadgets apply pressure to keep your wood in place and help prevent it from launching back at you. Through this safety feature, you can save yourself from the pain of the head and eye injuries.
Using a push stick during table saw operations is necessary if you want your fingers to stay safe. I made my own from a simple piece of wood that measures 1 x 2 x 12 inches. This handy tool puts some much-needed distance between your fingers and that blade.
I also recommend placing a push block over the wood board. It gives a firm grip on the material to keep it from being lifted off the table.
Did you know that hand tools like nail guns can cause injuries and other puncture wounds when malfunctioning? The US Department of Labor claimed in a study that 2 out of 5 carpenters suffered injuries from nail guns within four years.
In the 37,000 accident count per year, 68% of these nail gun injuries happen to workers in a shop or commercial setting. Unlike users injured by circular saws, injuries related to this machine aren’t always reported or given proper treatment.
Let me level with you: nail guns might not have saw blades, but underestimate them at your own peril. These gadgets can fire nails at high speeds in unpredictable directions. I always recommend a model with a full sequential trigger; it helps avoid those accidental misfires. But if you’re new to this, maybe start with something less intimidating.
Before using nail guns, ensure you know how to install, operate, and fire them. The operator should also be well-versed on the proper board or material placement so that an accident won’t occur.
When shooting nails on the wood piece, always do it with enough distance from your body and other people standing near you. Don’t forget to pull it out from the compressed air when doing tool maintenance or passing it to another person.
Also Read: Why Is Your Nail Gun Not Shooting Nails?
Jointers, Planers, Sanders, and Shapers
When running a wood shop, it’s hard to miss buying these tools. And while they’re not as dangerous as other sawing tools, their annual injury records range around 10,930. These accidents include ones caused by a miter saw that often occur due to improper setup.
Now, these machines might seem less threatening because you can’t see the blades, but that’s exactly why they can be dangerous. A good miter saw clamp with a sturdy stand and adjustable rollers is your best bet for keeping the wood board stable. I can’t stress enough how much stability matters; it’s the key to avoiding nasty accidents.
Feed material in the direction of the wood grain to minimize the risk of kickbacks. I’ve had my share of close calls, and going with the grain has saved me more times than I care to admit.
As a powerful saw capable of ripping thick materials, it’s quite a common sight in a typical wood shop. You may think it’s not as intimidating as a table saw, but over 4,000 victims are rushed to emergency rooms due to bandsaw injuries.
These woodworking machines won’t expose you to kickback because they have blade mechanisms that move downward. However, it doesn’t mean they offer injury-free operations.
Check if the blade is set at the right tension level. Most injuries caused by this tool involve the saw blade being over or under-tightened. Don’t forget to adjust the blade guard around ⅛-inch above the material to prevent the saw from skin contact.
Another way to avoid injuries while using a band saw is to ensure that the blades are well-maintained. Depending on the material you’re cutting, the blade’s teeth count you’ll need may vary.
Radial Arm Saws
Because of their rarity, radial arm saws have a relatively low accident count of around 500 cases yearly. Since it’s an old saw type, not many woodworkers still have this saw in their shops.
Despite not being widely available, it’s important to note that radial arm machines can execute a wide range of cuts.
These cutting machines are meant to be versatile, so you’ll have to adjust levers and knobs to cater to your cutting requirements. However, I don’t recommend doing this while the saw is running if you don’t want to obtain any injuries.
Before you push the material to the running blade, set it on maximum speed and power to prevent kickback that may cause the wood to fly in your direction. Instead of switching to the other side of the blade, you can use a push stick for a safer ripping operation using this saw.
(Know more about the uses of radial arm saws here.)
What are the Most Common Injuries in Woodworking?
Finger and Hand Amputation
The intricate nature of woodworking tools and machinery, coupled with the unforgiving hardness of wood, can result in severe accidents.
These injuries are common for woodworkers using machines such as table saws and bandsaws. Most incidents involve blade contact that leads to unfortunate amputations.
Cuts, Scrapes, Punctures, and Skewers
As one may expect, many woodworkers who don’t bother with wearing safety equipment end up with these injuries. Encountering these accidents is likely if you’re handling a non-powered device like chisels, screwdrivers, and nail guns.
As many of these woodworking machines operate with high-power motor engines, you can’t rule out the chances of getting burn injuries. These incidents can stem from electrical, thermal, and chemical burns .
One second of lost concentration, and you’ll put yourself in danger of blunt trauma injuries like breaking of fingers and concussions. These accidents are not typical, but these incidents call for the most immediate medical attention.
Cuts or Scrapes
It doesn’t matter if it’s an old dad’s shop; the basic rule is your workspace must have a first aid kit nearby for cuts and scrapes. These injuries are minor, so pouring alcohol or peroxide should be sufficient. After that, you can wrap it up with some band-aids.
If the wound continues to bleed after 15 minutes despite applying pressure, the next step you should do is seek medical help.
Punctures and Skewers
For punctured wounds, you must wrap them immediately with gauze to get the bleeding to stop.
If it does stop, you’ll have to apply alcohol or peroxide to the punctured area to eliminate bacteria. If the bleeding continues, it indicates that the wound is more severe than you think.
And listen, if you’ve got something actually impaled in your hand or fingers, don’t play hero. Do not, I repeat, do not try to yank it out yourself. You could make things a lot worse. Just bite the bullet and call for medical assistance. Trust me; it’s the smarter move.
Although this is a minor burn injury, you must soak it immediately in cold water for at least five minutes. You’ll also feel slight pain, so taking pain-relief medication like ibuprofen is a great remedy.
These are more serious burns with all the swelling and blisters. Despite being more severe, your reasoning is not lost if you want to treat it at home.
You must keep it under cool water for fifteen minutes, take pain medication, and apply antibiotic cream on your blisters. It’s not a fun time, but it’s manageable.
But let’s be clear: if you’ve got a third-degree burn, I’m talking exposed muscle or bone here, folks. This is not the time for DIY first aid. Dial emergency services right away. Seriously, don’t even think about treating this one at home.
Blunt Force Trauma
If the operator was knocked out because of a hit in the head, immediate medical help is the only option. Don’t try to move the victim, as there’s no way of telling how severe the injury is unless you’re a medical professional.
Worker Compensation for Accidents
Victims of these accidents will need time to recuperate, so their missed wages should be part of the compensation terms.
The overall compensation is also determined based on the severity of the injury. It should answer how long it will prevent the victim from working or if it’s a permanent disability.
Since it happened in a work setting, the company has the legal obligation to cover all expenses, including surgeries, confinement, and rehab.
Job Displacement Benefits
This compensation covers the worker’s retraining education. It’s meant to enhance the user’s skills to prevent these accidents from happening again.
Besides the compensation you can demand, you can also hold the company legally responsible by filing a lawsuit. However, it’s under the presumption that they’re at fault for the incident. For example, you got injured by a defective machine.
How common are accidents with woodworking?
Accidents with woodworking are very common. On a yearly scale, the related injuries recorded in emergency rooms reached around 720,000 cases.
What is the number 1 cause of accidents in the woodshop?
The number 1 cause of accidents in the woodshop is blade contact. Tool slipping and falling are also typical during woodworking operations in apartments, workshops, and woodworking sites, as well as dust and noise hazards.
What woodworking tool has the most accidents?
The woodworking tool with the most accidents is the table saw. Besides its wide availability, this machine can execute different cuts and handle various materials.
Is woodworking hard on your body?
No, woodworking isn’t hard on your body. Although you can’t eliminate safety risks immediately, the tasks that come with them aren’t as physically demanding as carpentry jobs. Besides, there different woodworking jobs, so you can choose the field that suits your skills.
How many accidents with woodworking happen every year?
Over 720,000 accidents with woodworking happen every year. Most of these recorded injuries are related to table saw usage.
What is the most common injury with wood?
After reading these facts and woodworking statistics/demographics, you may get the gist that woodworking isn’t the easiest job or hobby in the world.
And while these numbers can be overwhelming, knowing the limitations and risks you might face should lower the chances of encountering woodworking accidents and injuries in your next project.