Shop Accident Statistics and Woodworking Safety

Shop Accident Statistics & Woodworking Safety

Every year, hospitals see injuries caused by woodworking tools in the emergency room. This includes professionals and hobbyists, students and homeowners. The types of injuries vary, as there are more ways to make mistakes in a woodshop than there are ways to plan ahead for them – precisely why they’re called accidents!

In 2011, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database published statistics concerning injuries related to woodshop machinery. The information was submitted by a number of local hospitals and projected to determine a likely overall average of injuries across the country. Therefore, the numbers may be a little low with the consideration of how many people don’t go to the emergency room for a wound that isn’t life threatening. The numbers certainly don’t include the “near miss” accidents that nearly every woodworker has seen. They do include injuries not related to use of machinery, such as a hurt back from trying to move a piece.

Table Saw: estimated 39,750 annual injuries

In most modern woodshops, the table saw is the centerpiece of the room and the most used tool. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the table saw causes more injuries than other woodshop equipment. The NEISS study shows a total of 855 table saw injuries in their sample count, which equates to a prediction of 78,980 total table saw accidents across the country.

Jointers, Planers, and Other Machinery: estimated 10,930 annual injuries

Jointers and planers, along with shapers and sanders, were classified as “other” for the sake of the NEISS study. They accounted for 195 injuries, or a projected 21,859 total injuries.

Miter Saw: estimated 6,800 annual injuries

The miter saw, in today’s shop, has for the most part replaced the radial arm saw. With 127 total accidents, the miter saw proves it may not be as safe as it appears. Accidents can occur if it isn’t set up securely on a table or bench. Further, it is designed only to make one specific type of through crosscut with a full sized board. When people try to cut too small of a piece, they place their fingers too close to the blade, or occasionally people try to make a short rip cut which is seemingly simple but the saw does not properly support the board and even with a steady hand it can move slightly, causing a kickback.

Band Saw: estimated 3,550 annual injuries

The sample study only shows a total of eleven band saw injuries, which is not enough statistically to formulate a reasonable prediction as to the number of overall injuries there have been with the band saw. However, the direct data indicates it to be about one per cent of the number of table saw accidents. A few factors could play into these numbers. First, not many hobby woodshops use a band saw, and the ones that do don’t use it as often as the table saw, generally speaking.

Radial Arm Saw: estimated 350 annual injuries

The radial arm saw was at one time the primary tool of the average woodshop, as it is a versatile tool capable of a lot of different tasks. Unfortunately, it has limits in how wide of a board it can handle and can be difficult to set up for rip cuts, so its popularity has given way to the table saw as a primary shop machine. The NEISS figures show only 4 total radial arm saw accidents, a low number, probably because radial arm saws aren’t widely used today.

The Take Away

The numbers show that accidents happen. WWGOA’s goal for you is that you’re never included in these statistics.

Related Topics:

Miter Saw Safety Tips
Band Saw Safety Tips
Table Saw Safety Tips
Table Saw Safety for Beginner Woodworking
Table Saw Safety
Band Saw, Router Table and Table Saw Safety
12 Tips for Using a Router Safely


Survey of Injuries Involving Stationary Saws (PDF)

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10 Responses to “Shop Accident Statistics and Woodworking Safety”

  1. Steve Jefferson

    Hi there, Stay safe and wish all woodworkers that you’re never included in these statistics!

  2. camilya


  3. Russell Coker

    I have been working in wood shop since I was a teenager. I am looking for any safety data on wood lathes, you might think they are safe since nothing seams to be jumping our on internet. If there is any hard numbers. If possible I would like to see the information Thinks Russ

  4. angel valera

    IT is sad how there has been so many injuries and hardly no one has tryed to stop them

  5. Paul Kidson

    Thanks for the data listed. I think what would add significance to the data would be to have an understanding of what the relevant denominators are. For example, how many table saws are there, vs. planers vs. etc. Perhaps further, how many hours of table saw time vs. planer time vs. etc. do the injuries stem from. A "# of injuries per hour of use" for each of the tools would be really useful.

  6. John

    I just wanted some subway and learn some things about saws

  7. Best Wood Carving Tools and Tools Set: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide 2017

    […] not related to use of machinery, such as a hurt back from trying to move a piece.” – SHOP ACCIDENT STATISTICS AND WOODWORKING SAFETY by Andrew […]

  8. T A Miller

    What is the difference web site or web mail

  9. Maynard Gross

    What is the difference between "estimated annual injuries" and "projected injuries"?

  10. Tom Bailey

    I would like to differ with your statement: "accidents happen." Accidents are CAUSED. There is always an explanation. It could be carelessness, lack of maintenance, poor attention, working when tired, wrong tool for the job, dull tool, the list goes on and on. There most often is a series of events that leads to accidents, rarely a single event or cause. Root cause analysis is the most successful discipline used to determine the cause of an undesired event (accident) it is seldom easy to apply. However if one wants to prevent recurrence of an accident or prevent the first occurrence, putting some time into learning how to perform root cause analysis WILL save fingers, lives, law suits, and a lifetime of regrets.