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Thread: 31,400 Table Saw Accidents a Year

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  1. #1

    31,400 Table Saw Accidents a Year

    I ran into this and wanted to point it out to everyone here at SMC.

    I hope that this Forum will help to reduce that number!

    http://www.finewoodworking.com/item/...lesaw-injuries
    Definition of an expert: Someone more than 50 miles from home with a briefcase.

  2. #2
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    Certainly 31,400 is a big number, but I am always interested in percentages. I mean, just how many tablesaws are out there? Think about it, you have to count up not only all of the Unis, PMs, SSs, Grizs, etc, but also the benchtop Deltas, Skils, etc., etc. Ladies and gentlemen, that is a huge number. Putting it into perspective, if the total number of tablesaws out there is 250,000, then there is a 12.6% accident rate (pretty high). If there are 1,000,000 tablesaws, then that rate drops to 3%. Two and a half million saws? That number is now 1.2%.

    I'm not saying anything regarding safety, I'm just asking about the whole picture.
    Last edited by Maurice Ungaro; 03-01-2010 at 10:50 AM.
    Maurice

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    Unless of course, YOU are the one who got bit... Then YOU are at 100%...
    If you can't fix it with a hammer, you have an electrical problem.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Shoemaker View Post
    Unless of course, YOU are the one who got bit... Then YOU are at 100%...
    How right you are! Aren't we all trying to get through life without becoming a statistic until that last possible moment (a ripe old age at that!).
    Maurice

  5. #5
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    More interesting then just knowing the population size, I want to know the relative percentages of accidents on cabinet saw vs contractor saw etc. Further information on the level of injury would be useful as well. The article does share this:
    As you might imagine, roughly 93 percent of those injuries were to the users’ finger, thumb or another part of their hand. 66 percent of those injured had lacerations while 10 percent had amputations. Other types of injuries include soft-tissue injuries to the head, face and neck, presumably from flying lumber or debris caused by kickback.

  6. #6
    And around 80,000 motorcycle accidents per year. I wish car drivers and motorcycle riders were half as aware of safety as woodworkers are. Let's all work toward reducing accidents in all potentially dangerous activities of our lives.

    Interesting: "As you might imagine, roughly 93 percent of those injuries were to the users’ finger, thumb or another part of their hand." They don't mention the percentage of those that were due to the saw rearing up and attacking the operator . . . oh, that's right; that doesn't happen.
    “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” -- George Orwell


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  7. #7
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    How many of the saws were even running at the time of the "accident"? Injuries while changing blades etc...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maurice Ungaro View Post
    Certainly 31,400 is a big number, but I am always interested in percentages. I mean, just how many tablesaws are out there? Think about it, you have to count up not only all of the Unis, PMs, SSs, Grizs, etc, but also the benchtop Deltas, Skils, etc., etc. Ladies and gentlemen, that is a huge number. Putting it into perspective, if the total number of tablesaws out there is 250,000, then there is a 12.6% accident rate (pretty high). If there are 1,000,000 tablesaws, then that rate drops to 3%. Two and a half million saws? That number is now 1.2%.

    I'm saying anything regarding safety, I'm just asking about the whole picture.
    Some saws sit for years at time, while others see non-stop activity....obviously a tough number to estimate, but I'd be very interested in the usage figure.
    Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Maurice Ungaro View Post
    Certainly 31,400 is a big number, but I am always interested in percentages. I mean, just how many tablesaws are out there? Think about it, you have to count up not only all of the Unis, PMs, SSs, Grizs, etc, but also the benchtop Deltas, Skils, etc., etc. Ladies and gentlemen, that is a huge number. Putting it into perspective, if the total number of tablesaws out there is 250,000, then there is a 12.6% accident rate (pretty high). If there are 1,000,000 tablesaws, then that rate drops to 3%. Two and a half million saws? That number is now 1.2%.

    I'm saying anything regarding safety, I'm just asking about the whole picture.
    Let's use your accident rate of 3% per year. So each year, you have a 97% of not getting injured. But now, we have to look at your chances over time.

    What is your chance of getting injured over two years? To calculate it, we multiply your chance of not getting injured each year - 0.97 * 0.97 = 0.94 or about 6% chance of getting injured sometime in two years.

    Doing the math, you have about a 50% chance of getting injured over about 22 to 23 years. And that's injured enough to wind up at the emergency room.

    This doesn't mean you can go 23 years without injury. It means that 50% of woodworkers will wind up in the emergency room within 23 years and 50% will not wind up in the emergency room in that time. (That's actually not exactly correct because some visits could be repeats, people who were injured multiple times, but it's close.)

    You could be the one who winds up in the emergency room in the first year, or you could be one who never winds up in the emergency room.

    Do you want to play those odds with your fingers?

    Mike

    [If a 3% accident rate per year seems too high to you, do your own calculations. Just keep in mind that woodworkers are a relatively small part of the population of the United States. Using your accident rate of 1.2% per year, you have about a 25% chance of injury over 22 to 23 years

    What probability of injury are you willing to tolerate over your woodworking career?]
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 03-01-2010 at 10:30 AM.
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Henderson View Post

    What probability of injury are you willing to tolerate over your woodworking career?
    This is excellent logic. If I'm lucky (and don't get bored with it), I suspect I'll be using a table saw for 60+ more years. Even 0.1% per year is far too high, in that case.

  11. #11
    I am not a big fan of Norm, but I do like the one thing he says every show:

    "Before we use any power tools, let's take a moment to talk about shop safety. Be sure to read, understand, and follow all the safety rules that come with your power tools. Knowing how to use your power tools properly will greatly reduce the risk of personal injury. And remember this: there is no more important safety rule than to wear these — safety glasses."

  12. #12
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    Mike - as usual, very pristine logic. Depressing though.

    Glenn - " I wish car drivers and motorcycle riders were half as aware of safety as woodworkers are."

    There is an immediacy of a spinning blade that tends to get ones attention and requires us to have a heightened sense of situational awareness. We know beyond doubt that that blade is unforgiving. Ripping a board requires intense concentration for a relatively brief period of time, or at least it should.

    We have our cocoon on wheels and zip along willingly oblivious to the lethal potential that often times is beyond our ability to control. Driving often times becomes a mundane task even though it is more complex than ripping a board.

    Regardless, I agree with your point.
    Measure twice, cut three times, start over. Repeat as necessary.

  13. #13
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    What percentage of those injured are "woodworkers" and what percentage are folks who borrowed someone's table saw, have never used one before, and don't have any clue what they are doing?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Henderson View Post
    Let's use your accident rate is 3% per year. So each year, you have a 97% of not getting injured. But now, we have to look at your chances over time.

    What is your chance of getting injured over two years? To calculate it, we multiply your chance of not getting injured each year - 0.97 * 0.97 = 0.94 or about 6% chance of getting injured sometime in two years.

    Doing the math, you have about a 50% chance of getting injured over about 22 to 23 years. And that's injured enough to wind up at the emergency room.

    This doesn't mean you can go 23 years without injury. It means that 50% of woodworkers will wind up in the emergency room within 23 years and 50% will not wind up in the emergency room in that time. (That's actually not exactly correct because some visits could be repeats, people who were injured multiple times, but it's close.)

    You could be the one who winds up in the emergency room in the first year, or you could be one who never winds up in the emergency room.

    Do you want to play those odds with your fingers?

    Mike

    [If a 3% accident rate per year seems too high to you, do your own calculations. Just keep in mind that woodworkers are a relatively small part of the population of the United States. Using your accident rate of 1.2% per year, you have about a 25% chance of injury over 22 to 23 years

    What probability of injury are you willing to tolerate over your woodworking career?]
    This math is based on false assumptions. Who says that someone new gets injured each time? It's also convoluted logic to assume that the accident rate is the same each year.
    Statistics don't work that way. Just because 50% of the population gets a cold each year doesn't mean I'm guaranteed to get a cold in the next 2 years. Also, someone else's accident rate in no way increases or decreases the probability of ME having an accident.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Leigh View Post
    This math is based on false assumptions. Who says that someone new gets injured each time? It's also convoluted logic to assume that the accident rate is the same each year.
    Statistics don't work that way. Just because 50% of the population gets a cold each year doesn't mean I'm guaranteed to get a cold in the next 2 years. Also, someone else's accident rate in no way increases or decreases the probability of ME having an accident.
    I did point out that some accidents could be repeats. However, if someone is having a lot of accidents, they'd probably stop doing woodworking. The study did point out that the accident rate is essentially the same each year, even though safety devices have been added to the equipment. This indicates that people are not using the safety devices, or they're not effective.

    If 50% of the population gets a cold each year, your chance of getting a cold over two years is 75%, not 100%. The calculation is 0.5^2 for the probability of not getting a cold.

    You're correct that if someone else has an accident, it has absolutely no effect on your probability of having an accident. This is the same as flipping coins. If you get three head in a row, the probability of heads on the next flip is still 50%.

    Mike

    [Note: I have read the actual study, and not just the summary in FWW.]

    [Let me add a short discussion about statistics. Statistics generally say nothing about the individual - they only make statements about a group, and are more accurate the larger the group. For example, insurance companies make a lot of money selling life insurance because the can accurately predict (with statistics) how many people will die each year by age. But that says nothing about your (individual) chance of dying each year. We simply cannot predict when you will die. You might feel really healthy but then are diagnosed with a fatal disease tomorrow. Same thing with table saw accidents. You simply cannot predict whether you're going to have an accident or when. But as a group, the study shows that the rate of accidents is pretty constant over time. No one expects to have an accident - they probably wouldn't do something they expected would land them in the ER - but people still wind up in the ER on a pretty consistent rate.]
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 03-01-2010 at 11:46 AM.
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

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