While woodworking is an amazing skill to have, the machinery and chemicals used along with the work environment has many risks. Occasionally, these risks lead to injuries.
- Most common cause of woodworking injuries
- Most common injury woodworking
- How common are woodworking injuries
Most common cause of woodworking injuries
The most common cause of woodworking injuries is from “not paying attention”.
- Not paying attention
- Improper use of equipment
- Not wearing correct PPE
- Not following safety measures
It can be due to complete negligence, like if a woodworker purposefully walked away from a running table saw. Or it can be un-purposeful, like if someone was “thinking about something else” and they were not fully focused on what they were doing.
Injuries from not paying attention are common in ameature and professional woodworkers.
Ameature woodworkers may “forget to do something”. One may forget to not have the blade touch the wood before starting the saw, or may forget to use the push stick.
Professional woodworkers tend to not pay attention by rushing or by doing the same thing so many times.
Ameteaurs are naturally more likely to make mistakes due to inexperience. But this is not just with woodworking. Think of a typical 16 year old driving a car versus a 45 year old.
A typical 16 year old may make minor accidents like hitting a curb and slightly scratching the side mirror. This may leave minor scratches that may cost money if you want to get it fixed, but everyone is fine. Or, god forbid, they may make a major mistake that can be life threatening.
Woodworkers are the same, an ameature may make more minor accidents like having slight kickback by touching the wood with the blade before starting the saw. Additionally, they may have more severe accidents like lacerations of body parts.
Other common causes for injuries
While “not paying attention” is the number one cause of woodworking injuries, some of the other common injuries include improper use of equipment, not wearing correct PPE, and not following safety measures.
Improper use of equipment
Not using equipment properly is a major cause in many woodworking injuries. These injuries are common in woodworkers of all levels of expertise.
Amateur woodworkers use equipment incorrectly largely because they are ignorant of the correct way to use the equipment or the importance of using the equipment that way.
An amateur woodworker may not completely know how to properly use a circular saw, how to prevent kickback, and how to properly cut the wood for example. Additionally, they may know how to use it, but may not understand the importance of using it that way.
Professional woodworkers know the risks, but they have more confidence in their abilities. Some professional woodworkers do not use blade guards on circular or table saws. While some may argue that blade guards are not “that effective” at preventing injuries, it does help to some degree.
Not wearing the correct PPE
Woodworking injuries are not always preventable. Sometimes you will just need to have protection when injuries do occur. Moreover, a woodworking workshop is present harmful chemicals and materials that will cause injuries if you do not protect yourself.
Eye protection is essential in woodworking because it not only protects you from the inevitable wood dust that you are exposed to, but it also protects your eyes from impact that results from kickback when cutting wood
Ear protection is mainly used to protect your hearing from noises caused by machinery and a mask for particles in the air.
Many woodworking injuries result in lacerations. There is no forms of PPE that are commonly used or that I could recommend that will protect you from cuts to your fingers, the most common laceration injury.
Many saw blades are designed to cut through many types of material, and even steel cutting gloves will be cut through by a full speed saw blade. Additionally, the use of bulky gloves can actually cause injuries. It can get caught in a piece of machinery just like baggy clothing or long hair.
Not following safety measures
Not following the correct safety protocols can lead to injuries when woodworking. Incorrectly disposing of chemicals and pushing wood through a table saw are two ways that incorrect use can lead to an injury.
Most safety measures can be found on labeling or in the manual of the tool or chemical to are using. The best way to know safety measures is to read all instructions and warning labels.
Above, we discussed the most common cause of woodworking injuries which include not paying attention, improper use of equipment, not wearing PPE, and not following safety protocol.
If you read on, we will discuss the most common form of woodworking injuries, how common are these injuries, and the woodworking tools with the most injuries.
Most common injury woodworking
The most common injury while woodworking are hand and finger injuries. This may be what you guessed because your hands and fingers are the closest body part to your work and machinery.
- Scratches and cuts
- Puncture wounds
- Chemical injuries
- Joint injuries
- Eye injuries
- Ear injuries
Some of the common hand and finger injuries include cuts and scratches, puncture wounds, and lacerations.
Cuts and puncture wounds are common on the hands and fingers but can happen on almost any body part. Lacerations are extremely common on fingers and toes and rarely happen on other body parts when woodworking.
Scratches and cuts
Small scratches and cuts are overwhelmingly common and are unreported because they may not need medical attention.
Deep cuts that require medical attention are a common form of serious woodworking injuries. An example of this can be someone who severely cuts their finger using a table saw.
Puncture wounds are when becomes enlodged or completely penetrates a body part. Being punctured by a nail or drill bit can happen when woodworking.
Lacerations is another common form of severe woodworking injuries. Lacerations of digits, fingers and toes, are very common and can be life altering.
Lacerations of fingers are commonly caused by operating saws, like a table saw, circular saw, or miter saw. Someone who is not paying attention or using the saw correctly may have their finger to close to the blade.
People have tried to change saw blades when the saw is still plugged in and some have had their finger to close to the blade while cutting wood.
Lacerations to toes are less common but have happened by runaway circular saws. This is causes when someone puts down a circular saw before the blade guard goes down. The blade is still spinning and it shoots across the room, potentially injuring someone.
Other common injuries
Other common injuries include irritations and burns, back, knee, and elbow, injuries, and eye and ear injuries.
Common chemical injuries while woodworking include irritations and burns. Common chemicals that are present in a woodworking workshop include solvents in paint and stains. Lacquers are a type of paint that is very toxic.
Moreover, epoxy and mineral spirits are also harmful chemicals that are commonly used in a woodworking workshop.
Implications to exposure to these chemicals can cause irritations and burns as a short term effect and neurological issues with long term exposure.
Back, knee, and elbow injuries
Woodworking is very physical and demanding. Without proper posture, rest, and by not taking care of your body, you can joint issues and muscle strains.
Long term woodworking of improper posture, movement, and by not taking proper breaks can cause chronic pain and irreversible damage.
Eye injuries when woodworking can result in irritations and blunt force eye trauma.
Irritations are common when proper PPE is not worn. Wood dust and chemicals can irritate the eyes and have short term effects that last for days, week, and maybe even months. Some of the long term effects can be chronic irritations and dry eye syndrome.
Blunt force eye trauma is when a something hits or punctures the eye. Sometimes a wood shard may fly off the wood while you are cutting it. Your eyes are very delegate and will not have the same recovery as if that that shard hit you in the arm.
Blunt force eye trauma is very serious and can lead to an impaired vision and/or blindness.
A woodworking workshop is normally very loud. OSHA requirements are to have hearing protection when in an environment of 85 decibels or more for an 8 TWA, time weighted average.
Power drills are around 90 to 100 decibels, saws around 100 to 120, and sanders anywhere from 80 to 90 decibels or more.
This shows that you will need hearing protection when using common woodworking equipment. Being exposed to loud sounds can damage your hearing, thus resulting in noised-induced hearing loss and tinnitus, which is a constant ringing noise in the ears.
How common are woodworking injuries
Now that we understand common causes for and types of woodworking injuries, we can now go into how common are these injuries.
According to a research article by Justis and Lavelle, approximately 720,000 injuries occur annually from the use of woodworking equipment. However, not all woodworking injuries occur from the use of woodworking equipment.
This does not include injuries due to chemicals and physical strain. Chemicals can cause burns and irritation, and back, neck, knee, and elbow injuries can arise from poor form, posture, and by not taking proper breaks.
According to OSHA, in 2020 an average of 4.7 out of 100 full-time workers were injured in the wood product manufacturing.
|Incidence Rates (2020)|
|Wood Product Manufacturing||4.7 out of 100|
|Wood household furniture manufacturing||2.8 out of 100|
|Wood office furniture manufacturing||3.3 out of 100|
|Wood kitchen countertops and cabinets manufacturing||3.4 out of 100|
This data was generated from OSHA’s Summary Tables for 2020.
The incidence rates are calculated out of 100 full-time workers. The issue with these statistics are that it does not calculate incidents that were not reported to OSHA. Hobbyists and solo proprietorships do not need to report to OSHA.
In this article we learned about the different types of woodworking injuries and how common they are. Then we learned about how to prevent these injuries.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article and I wish you luck on your woodworking journeys!
EverythingDiyProjects is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We also participate in other affiliate programs which compensate us for referring traffic.