Licensed Professional Engineers

Table Saw and Powered Saw Accidents (855) 627-6273

A recent study by a woodworking website found in a study of 262 woodworking accidents that 64% of them were due to table saws. Of these table saw accidents, 68% occurred due to physical contact with the spinning blade. The rest of the accidents occurred when the saw blade caught on the work piece instead of cutting it and propelled the work piece into the operator (kickback),and the users’ hands came into contact with the spinning saw blade.

Power saws are an example of a product with an inherent hazard. Inherent hazards are hazards that are caused by the function of the product, in the case of saws, cutting. Power saws include table saws, circular saws, chop saws, mitre saws, band saws, and several other configurations. These inherently hazardous power tools must be properly safeguarded to prevent accidents. Power saws illustrate the concept of hierarchy of engineering design. Designers are responsible for producing safe products - this starts with indentifying and eliminating hazards from a design. Hazards that cannot be eliminated at the design stage are product hazards that are the result of the function of the product. The function of saws is to cut, and that function is what makes them hazardous. The hierarchy of design calls for these types of inherent hazards to be neutralized with guarding techniques. Guarding power saws, particularly tables saws has historically proven difficult. The standard hood-type plastic guard found on most tablesaws does not provide adequate protection. Many saw manufacturers mount the guard by using a mounting that descends to below the table level, behind the saw. This is called a safety device, a splitter. There is some controversy whether this splitter increases or decreases the safety of a saw. When a saw's splitter is not rigid and/or not attached to the saw securely, it can become misaligned easily, which increases the chance of a kickback accident. Advances in guarding technology have brought about after-market devices that effectively safeguard tablesaw operations. Improved physical barriers reduce the likelihood of contact with saw blades and prevent kickback accidents. A recent innovation, the SawStop Table Saw, has approached the table saw problem from a different angle. They have created a saw that will stop in a fraction of a second when the saw blade comes into contact with human flesh. This saw has gained popularity, and there are many documented saves where the users contacted the saw blade and received a minor laceration as their only injury.