# Thread: 31,400 Table Saw Accidents a Year

1. Member
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Aug 2006
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Originally Posted by Sean Nagle
That's the approach all of us should take with all tools. However, I would say that a SawStop is actually the last line of defense, not the first line.
Yes first to kick in when all else fails, and the last line of defense for when all measures taken to avoid using the brake fail.

Either way it's Belt n' Braces!!!

Does anyone know what the saved digits/fingers count is on the SawStop since it's inauguration date?
Last edited by Eddie Darby; 03-01-2010 at 3:54 PM.

2. Originally Posted by Mike Henderson
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?]

But in the end the only choice you have is to just not use a TS. Is that something you want to tolerate over your woodworking career? Safety is important because danger is always there. You have to approach any endevour aware of the risks and rewards and balance those. Safety in the woodshop is something everyone here probably thinks about actively than automobile safety but you are MUCH more likely to die in an automobile. Cars are a risk we pretty much have to take but use of a TS is a choice, in the end driving/riding in a car is dangerous and I know very few people that even bother to buy the safest car they can afford, their purchase is based on looks, comfort, country of origin et al.

For me woodworking is the safest major hobby that I endulge in. In fact one major accomplishment I have in one of my hobbys has a 1 in 5 DEATH rate among those that accomplish it just during the actual act not the counting the training that leads up to it. Then again Ernest Hewingway said there are only three real sports and my hobby is one of them.

Articles like this are excellent reminders of how vigilent we need to be but trying to extrapolate how likely one indivdual is to have or not have an accident can't accurately been done with this info. One just has to develop a set of safety skills and procedures and be mindful of them everytime they enter the shop. We are never going to be perfect but we shouldn't live in fear either, respect yes, fear no.

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Originally Posted by Van Huskey
But in the end the only choice you have is to just not use a TS. Is that something you want to tolerate over your woodworking career? Safety is important because danger is always there. You have to approach any endevour aware of the risks and rewards and balance those. Safety in the woodshop is something everyone here probably thinks about actively than automobile safety but you are MUCH more likely to die in an automobile. Cars are a risk we pretty much have to take but use of a TS is a choice, in the end driving/riding in a car is dangerous and I know very few people that even bother to buy the safest car they can afford, their purchase is based on looks, comfort, country of origin et al.

For me woodworking is the safest major hobby that I endulge in. In fact one major accomplishment I have in one of my hobbys has a 1 in 5 DEATH rate among those that accomplish it just during the actual act not the counting the training that leads up to it. Then again Ernest Hewingway said there are only three real sports and my hobby is one of them.

Articles like this are excellent reminders of how vigilent we need to be but trying to extrapolate how likely one indivdual is to have or not have an accident can't accurately been done with this info. One just has to develop a set of safety skills and procedures and be mindful of them everytime they enter the shop. We are never going to be perfect but we shouldn't live in fear either, respect yes, fear no.
Bullfighting? Wear a cup. DAMHIKT!

4. Originally Posted by Van Huskey
But in the end the only choice you have is to just not use a TS. Is that something you want to tolerate over your woodworking career? Safety is important because danger is always there. You have to approach any endevour aware of the risks and rewards and balance those. Safety in the woodshop is something everyone here probably thinks about actively than automobile safety but you are MUCH more likely to die in an automobile. Cars are a risk we pretty much have to take but use of a TS is a choice, in the end driving/riding in a car is dangerous and I know very few people that even bother to buy the safest car they can afford, their purchase is based on looks, comfort, country of origin et al.

For me woodworking is the safest major hobby that I endulge in. In fact one major accomplishment I have in one of my hobbys has a 1 in 5 DEATH rate among those that accomplish it just during the actual act not the counting the training that leads up to it. Then again Ernest Hewingway said there are only three real sports and my hobby is one of them.

Articles like this are excellent reminders of how vigilent we need to be but trying to extrapolate how likely one indivdual is to have or not have an accident can't accurately been done with this info. One just has to develop a set of safety skills and procedures and be mindful of them everytime they enter the shop. We are never going to be perfect but we shouldn't live in fear either, respect yes, fear no.
I agree with your major points. My goal is to understand the risks and then do what I can to reduce the risks to a point that is acceptable to me.

Your major point that we live with risks everyday is very true.

Mike

[Ernest Hemingway's three real sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering]
Last edited by Mike Henderson; 03-01-2010 at 5:24 PM.

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Every time you flip a coin, your odds of a heads are 50%. If you flip it 5000 times and get heads every time, it's still 50% the next time you flip. If your odds in a given year are 3% (or whatever), the next year your odds are 3%.

Just because 3% of the population gets hit in a given year says nothing about your individual odds. Someone that works 12 hour days 7 days a week at a saw will have higher odds do to tiredness, repetitive sedation, lots of other reasons. Someone that has never used a saw will have higher odds. Someone that takes unnecessary chances will have higher odds, etc.

6. Originally Posted by Ross Canant
Every time you flip a coin, your odds of a heads are 50%. If you flip it 5000 times and get heads every time, it's still 50% the next time you flip. If your odds in a given year are 3% (or whatever), the next year your odds are 3%.
You're absolutely correct. However, the question being asked was different from what you're saying.

Let's assume that 3% of the woodworkers have a table saw accident each year, and the question of who has the accident is totally random, like the flip of a coin. If you go through a year and don't have an accident, your chance of having an accident this coming year is still 3%.

But let's ask the question a different way. Let's go back to our original year and ask, "What is the probability of you having one accident in the next two years?" That is, the probability that you will have an accident either in year one or in year two. To do that, we take the probability of not having an accident in each year and multiply them together .97*.97 = .94 Since this is the probability of not having an accident, the probability of an accident is about 6%.

Suppose we ask, "What is the probability that you will have at least one accident in the next 20 years?" We can multiply .97 time itself 20 times, or simply raise .97 to the 20th power, which gives the answer (about) .54

Since that the probability of not having an accident, the probability of having an accident is 1-.54 or about .46 So if you have a 3% chance of an accident each year, in 20 years the probability is about 46% that you will have one accident in those years.

Mike

[Or using coin flips, let's ask the question, "What is the probability of getting three heads in the next three flips?" Since the probability of a head is .5, the probability of three in a row is .5 raised to the third power, or .125 You can verify this is true by flipping a coin three times, and doing it over and over. You'll find that about 12.5% of your trials result in three heads.]
Last edited by Mike Henderson; 03-01-2010 at 11:14 PM.

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Originally Posted by Mike Henderson
I agree with your major points. My goal is to understand the risks and then do what I can to reduce the risks to a point that is acceptable to me.
Your major point that we live with risks everyday is very true.

Mike

[Ernest Hemingway's three real sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering]
Mike,
Woodworking is in the stone ages for the DIY and small operations.
If you visit an industrial plan you will see that woodworking is very much done like a machine shop...only faster.

CNC Beam saws, CNC routers,
Gand and rip saws with overhead conveyors and 3 lines of protection...

The best thing for the small guy is to copy the industrial setups using...

All industrial high production machines are designed one way or another to comply with the DWC.

Pushing an unstable piece of wood against spinning blades without a way to
counter the forces generated by the spinning blades and knifes...
is a ticket to the emergency room.

Overpowering the forces of the spinning blade with a simple and effective
device is the answer to safety.
Some may say that safety is slow.
To me, safety is the first step to quality, accuracy and speed.

8. If you've read my other recent posting, Dino, you know that I just bought a SawStop Professional table saw.

Mike

9. Contributor
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I'm gonna inject a dose of numbers that are closer to reality. Those 31,400 injuries (in the US) are for NON-work related injuries. The total number of serious - hospital treated - table saw injuries per year is more than 50,000. The number of table saws (in the US) is even harder to determine - a study in the early 2000s estimated 6,000,000 to 10,000,000. (But how often are they used? Didn't even try to answer that...) Anyway, that puts the annual serious injury rate for table saws in the .5% to .9% range.

Originally Posted by Ross Canant
Every time you flip a coin, your odds of a heads are 50%. If you flip it 5000 times and get heads every time, it's still 50% the next time you flip.
If you have a "coin" that flips 5000 heads in a row, then the assumption that the coin is fair - that the chance of heads vs tails is even - is seriously flawed. I'd bet quite a lot that the next flip would be heads... Now, that reasoning doesn't hold for 3 heads in a row, or even 10 in a row, but 5000 is a whole 'nother story.

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No license or training needed to operate a tablesaw! Any person, regardless of age, can buy a new or used one. Tablesaw owners run the gamut of society: Professionals who likely had mentors to teach them. Serious hobbiests who scrutinize every nuiance of them. Homeowners who only need to accomplish a DIY job. Others who may, or may not live in the real world of consequences for a given action. They may be the elderly senile, or the young immature having a video game mindset, which allows one to *push reset* or *log off* with no consequence at all.

Distractions of every sort must certainly contribute to TS accidents. And, one must wonder how many TS accidents occur while under the influence of alcohol, recreational drugs, or even prescription meds. The All-American scenario of a *brewsky* (or 2 or 3 or 4) in the shop while doing *hobby stuff* is normal for many. 2 or 3 beers consumed, and most states deem an individual too impaired to drive a vehicle; liable to arrest. A tablesaw (or other machine) can also plainly be a lethal weapon to an operator *under the influence*.

I am not a Poker player, nor do I play the Lottery. There are *the odds* and then there is Providence! *Beating the odds* always defies statistics or logic. So far, for over 30 years, I have been blessed to avoid any serious TS accident. If one should believe No One is watching over him, then it's all up to that individual, what he does, or doesn't do! Caveat emptor! Let the buyer beware!

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Originally Posted by Mike Henderson
If you've read my other recent posting, Dino, you know that I just bought a SawStop Professional table saw.

Mike
Mike,
The sawstop solves only one major problem.
great invention. The greatest in tablesaws and I hope to see more applications in other tools.

Even the sawstop needs to fix the problem and comply with the DWC one day. The saw doesn't know when the wood is going to become a bullet.

If you try to understand the problem look no further.
Here are some stats and facts.
over 15.000? users for 5-6 years without any reported minor accident.
The tablesaw is just one of many that can change someones life
in a split sec, ....32.000? times a year. More than any war?
The users have to be educated about the right way to use spinning tools.

I agree with another poster about DIY. Using a tablesaw without any prior teachings...equals to DYI.
But if we continue to take the blame and point the fingers to the innocent victims while some tv stars are allowed to teach unsafe ways in public TV shows... bad for our trade.
Why do you think most and soon all schools are removing woodworking?
----------------------------------------------------------------------

The tablesaw mentality? Look at me. I can count to 10.
I'm smarter.... 32.000 every year.
Nothing is wrong with MY tool.

something is wrong here.
We can send people to the moon and bring them back without a scratch.
Yet, a new DIY and even many pro's are becoming the reason for some to feel smarter... year after year.
Have you seen a tablesaw victim in the emergency room?
I did once in a bed next to me and I wished that I don't die next to him.
IT WAS HORRIBLE.

Some may say that my post is very "strong" and that
I don't have the right communication skills.

they're right.

12. Contributor
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Ok here is a different slant on this. My bride is an ER nurse with forty years of experience. She and I were talking about this subject two nights ago in response to another post on the same subject.
She pointed out that the majority of tablesaw injuries she's seen in large hospital ER's tend to come in from 7pm and later. Alcohol plays a large part in a lot of them and she also suggested that the folks that were injured might well have been overtired from working a "day" job as well. Another thing she came up with was poor lighting in the shop. One of the doctors she works with pointed out that a common thread that he's seen is a cramped workspace, as described by his patients.
Just throwing this out there for consideration, although these aren't statistics from a study I'd put my wifes' experience out in front of most studies any day.

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Originally Posted by Chip Lindley
They may be the elderly senile, or the young immature having a video game mindset, which allows one to *push reset* or *log off* with no consequence at all.
[off-topic]
I doubt video games have anything to do with the mindset of the young being such that they fear no consequences. Most younger people have difficultly contemplating mortality due to lack of experience; this has been true long before the age of video games.

14. Mike has it right mountaineering, auto racing and bullfighting. I have been a mountaineer for 22 years. In that time I have summited K2, Denali (in the winter), Gasherbrum IV, The Great Trango Tower, Baintha Brakk, and Everest (the easiest of all of these). Everyone of these claim at least 10% of those that reach the summit, K2 hovers around 33%.

I say this because many of us have hobbys more dangerous than WWing. Motorcycle riding, bicycling, sky diving, skiing, scuba diving, horse riding, rock and mountain climbing etc etc claim more lives each year per capita than wood working. All these hobbies are calculated risks as is WWing. The key is how you manage those risks and prepare for the possibilities of injury. I would say far to many of us don't take first aid nearly as importantly as we should. How many of us have a full fledged REAL first aid kit capable of handling an amputation in easy reach in our shop. I see plenty of shop tours and hardly ever see any serious frst aid clearly available. My shop is detached from my house and I ran doorbell wire when I ran a phone line out there and have a big red button on the wall that I can hit and ring a bell in the house, overkill maybe but who knows (this from a guy who did NOT choose a SS).

In the end you should never fear ANYTHING in your woodshop, if you do, sell it. Fear is as dangerous as over confidence. Respect the tools and as a result learn how to use them safely. The vast majority of life long woodworkers go to their graves with all their digits intact some by luck most by good habits.

In the end I always read these studies and see them as basically useless because the people taking the info are rarely people who understand what questions to ask and frankly don't really care. I would like to see real stats compiled by someone who understands what it all means, but an ER could care less if your finger got cut off by a Delta Uni tuned within an inch of its life, with a riving knife, Beis over arm guard in a shop cleaner and more well lit than their OR or by a benchtop setup on the ground beside a construction site crosscutting 2x12s by a 19yo.

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In over 40 years of WW I've experienced one accident on a WW machine's spinning blade/bit. Mine was on a router table. The cause was nothing less than stupidity on my part. It wasn't the machine's fault in any way. I was doing a task that I simply should not have been doing without the proper hold downs and taking too deep a cut in one pass. It was 100% avoidable with the safety devices I had on hand. Fortunately, I didn't lose an digits nor suffer any long term damage. I chose to ignore my instincts and paid the price.

Sometimes, I'll find myself beginning to not pay attention as I should when working on my TS. When I experience that, I turn the machine off, chastise myself, think about it and then back to my work with full concentration.

I also agree with Chip that alcohol probably plays a major role in many shop accidents, as does being tired and mentally stressed.

For me, don't have a beer (I rarely drink anyway and certainly not in the shop) and quit for the day when my instincts tell me to do so. Add to that, develop good work habits and good instincts. It's about respect, not fear.

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