Safety in the Workshop

How to Avoid Woodworking Accidents: Potential Hazards and Safety Tips

Be aware of the hazards associated with woodworking. Wood is one of the most versatile and most utilized mediums in the world because of its inherent flexibility and abundance in nature. The craft of woodworking has developed a number of techniques to produce a wide variety of products such as furniture, sculptures and more. You should also give priority to the hazards involved in this type of activity.

Working with hardwoods can pose a hazard to health mainly because of exposure to its dust that is known to render woodworkers not only skin and nasal allergic reactions but as well as make them more susceptible to a specific kind of cancer.

The exterior of newly cut hardwood have saps that can trigger allergies on the skin if there is direct contact. Even hardwood dust can cause the same allergic reactions. A good example of this is rosewood, which is commonly utilized in musical instruments.

Other effects of contact with dust can bring about a number of respiratory diseases such as asthma, hypersensitive pneumonia and lung scarring caused by repeated respiratory attacks. Examples would be cork, oak and redwood. Prolonged exposure to hardwood dust is now connected with a specific kind of nasal/sinus cancer called Aden carcinoma. The latency period of this type of disease is between 40 and 45 years. Studies have shown that 7 of 10,000 woodworkers are more likely to develop this disease.

Certain pesticides and preservatives can also be a hazard in woodworking. Although it is now impossible to determine which specific chemical is dangerous in processed wood, the United States and Canada have taken an active action against banning imported woods that have been treated with pentachlorophenol and its salts, creosote and chromated copper arsenate (CCA).


Pentachlorophenol can penetrate the skin and become the cause of chloracne, which is an acute form of acne. It can also bring about liver damage and has been identified as a plausible human carcinogen.

On the other hand, chromated copper arsenate can prove to be severely toxic through inhalation, ingestion and through physical contact. It can cause a variety of skin diseases such as allergies, skin ulcers and skin cancer. More importantly, it can also threaten internal organ functions such as peripheral nervous system damage and kidney and blood damage.

Creosote may also cause irritation to both the skin and the respiratory system, and has also been classified as a probable human carcinogen and teratogen.

Machining can be very detrimental to hearing. More often than not, these woodworking machines can be deafening as they reach a high of 115 decibels. The obvious effect of such is long-term hearing loss due to prolonged exposure.

Before starting a woodworking project, it is of importance to protect your body from all the potential hazards that are present. It is especially important to protect the eyes, ears, and the lungs. Wearing clothes that aren’t loose and gloves are recommended to prevent skin irritation.

Wearing of protective eye gears or goggles protect woodworkers from debris flying from using hand tools to rip wood. Also, these protective eye gears should be worn while applying wood finish because the chemicals might dry the eyes.

Sawing lumber to pieces could be deafening, the reason why ear muffs or ear plugs should be worn at all times. There are tools that send off high pitched sounds that will cause hearing loss in time.

To protect the airways, there are dust collectors, chip collectors, air filters and dust masks available. It is important to keep the woodworking area well ventilated and orderly. You never know when dust particles may enter the respiratory tract and cause harm.

When working with wood you will be using sharp tools, heavy equipment, and power tools. To ensure that long-term damage will be prevented, workers should always check that the tools used are sharp. Sharp gears would mean fewer accidents.

Heavy equipment should be used properly. There are cutting aids and jigs that guide the wood. If hand tools are going to be used, clamping the wood on the work table is advisable. Making sure that electrical tools are well grounded or are doubly insulated will prevent electrical injuries or worse, fire accident.

Make sure blades are properly attached. Check all the parts before turning on the machine, especially the locks of the blades.

Ensure that the guards for saws are in place. Saws are very dangerous if not handled properly. Make sure that the guards are on before sawing anything.

Actively practice safety precautions you can enjoy worry free woodworking projects.


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