Woodworking Accidents and Injuries — Wood Shop Tool Hazards

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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. 

Join our resident woodworkers as we discuss recent statistics and everything you need to know about the risks of using these tools. 

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.

Table Saws

Given its relevance in every workshop, we weren’t surprised to discover that over 40,000 injuries annually are related to table saw usage.  

adjusting table saw fence railing

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.  

Safety Precautions

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. 

operating table saw to make groove and tongue joint

You can also rely on feather boards to apply pressure on the blades and prevent the piece of wood from catapulting in the operator’s direction. 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. You can make a DIY push stick with a small piece of wood sized 1 x 2 x 12 inches. The point of this feature is to set enough distance between your finger and the blades. 

We 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.

Nail Guns

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. 

nail gun

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.

Safety Precautions

Although this tool isn’t equipped with a sharp saw blade, it can fire nails in different directions and leave you hurt and injured. We suggest using a model with a full sequential trigger to prevent accidental discharge. However, this tool type isn’t recommended for inexperienced users. 

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. 

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. 

low-angle block plane

Safety Precautions

The wood board should stay stable to avoid mishaps, so you should consider getting a miter saw clamp with a durable stand and adjustable rollers. Feeding the material through the wood grain will also lessen the chances of experiencing kickbacks.

These machines have hidden blade designs, so keeping your hands near their paths can lead to unforeseen injuries. 

Bandsaws

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

Shop Fox Bandsaw

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.  

Safety Precautions

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. 

RIGID radial arm saw

Despite not being widely available, it’s important to note that radial arm machines can execute a wide range of cuts.  

Safety Precautions

These cutting machines are meant to be versatile, so you’ll have to adjust levers and knobs to cater to your cutting requirements. However, we 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

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. 

table saw finger injury

Burns

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 [1]

Trauma

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. 

First Aid

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. 

injury treated at hospital

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.

If a sharp object skewered through your hands or fingers, don’t try to pull it yourself. To avoid making things worse, call for medical help right away. 

First-Degree Burn

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. 

Second-Degree Burn

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. 

hand injury

You must keep it under cool water for fifteen minutes, take pain medication, and apply antibiotic cream on your blisters. 

Third-Degree Burn

We don’t recommend home remedies if the burns include exposed muscles and bones. Calling emergency services is the best and fastest way to aid these accidents. 

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

Work Wage

Victims of these accidents will need time to recuperate, so their missed wages should be part of the compensation terms. 

operating a circular saw

Disability Benefits

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. 

Medical Expenses

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. 

circular saw kick back

Third-Party Liability

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. 

FAQ

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.

Must-Read: How To Execute Woodworking Tasks in an Apartment

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. 

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?

The most common injury with wood pieces is when materials and debris hit your eyes. It could result in temporary vision loss and partial or complete blindness. 

Conclusion

After reading these facts and statistics, 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. 

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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