Previous month:
July 2017

August 2017

Table Saw Safety

HawkerPosted by Tonya Hawker

The table saw is one of the most widely used woodworking machines in today’s manufacturing processes due to its versatility, efficiency, and ease of use. Table saws can rip wood, cross cut, dado, miter, bevel, and even cut shapes and edging to create the finest of wood products. However, if not used properly, the table saw can be one of the most dangerous tools in your “tool box.” The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) estimates there are an average of 38,000 table saw injuries annually. These injuries vary from simple lacerations to serious amputations which can cost millions of dollars in medical care and lost wages.

Table Saw

What can you do today to protect table saw users? Most importantly, you need to repair/replace any substandard equipment, offer applicable training, and enforce safety expectations. Consider the following safety tips for optimum table saw operation.


  • Avoid loose fitting clothes - keep long sleeves above elbow, DO NOT WEAR GLOVES
  • Wear ear and eye protection
  • Be sure table saws are securely fastened to the floor and do not wobble
  • Be sure blade is sufficiently affixed and tight
  • Check blade guard and anti-kickbacks for proper operation, and check alignment of the riving knife (riving knife is preferred over standard splitter)
  • Inspect wood before sawing - don’t cut wood with knots, warps, or twists


  • DO NOT start the saw with the blade engaged or touching the stock
  • Always keep blade guard, riving knife, and kickback paws in place unless impossible (dado cuts)
  • Be sure there is plenty of out-feed support at the back of the saw table
  • Keep the saw table free of any other items
  • ALWAYS use a “push stick” to guide smaller pieces toward the blade (your hands should NEVER be near the blade)
  • Never reach over a moving blade
  • Don’t saw freehand
  • Use a miter gauge or a sled for crosscutting and the rip fence for ripping
  • Never back a board out of a cut
  • Always stand to the side of the blade when cutting, not directly behind the blade
  • Unplug the saw whenever you perform a blade change or adjustment that puts your fingers in close proximity to the blade
  • Always use dust collection system to control wood dust accumulation


  • Keep the saw blade clean and sharp
  • Unplug the table saw when making adjustments/maintenance

By the way, there are several OSHA and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards that when followed will adequately protect employees from table saw injury. Unfortunately, these standards are often violated by employees and not enforced by management. OSHA’s Machine Guarding standard (29 CFR 1910.213) addresses table saw operation, and in 2005 the CPSC required that new table saws include a riving knife and modular guard to further prevent these injuries. 

On April 27, 2017 the CPSC went a step further in issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) requiring table saws to include advanced safety features that will limit injury to human flesh. The CPSC didn’t specify the manner in which the saw will do this, but did set a limit of a 3.5mm cut to a finger when contacting the spinning blade at one meter per second. It is presumed that technologies similar to what is currently available from SawStop will become the industry standard should this rule be adopted. Considering recent litigation between SawStop and Bosch over patent infringement this could be a long drawn out issue with no clear resolution. Regardless, the issue of table saw safety is clearly in the national conversation which should be beneficial to all users. 


You are in charge of your own destiny!  The choices you make will define your results… so make the right choice!

Additional information is available from OSHA in the Machine Guarding e-Tool and the Guide for Protecting Workers from Woodworking Hazards publication.      

Only You Can Prevent… Skin Cancer!

Koch Posted by Peter Koch

These sunny summer days are great. The bright summer sun gives us light, energy, and increases our vitamin D production. However, the same sun that gives us so much can be a hazard for outdoor workers. What are the hazards? Beyond heat stroke and dehydration, the ultraviolet light from the sun can also be hazardous.  Even though we all react differently to sun exposure, statistics show that the stronger the source and more frequent the exposure, our risk of melanoma or skin cancer will increase.

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be more than 87,000 new cases of melanoma diagnosed in 2017. They also forecast that around 10,000 people will die from melanoma this year.   Lastly, since 2009 there has been a 20 percent increase in new cases of melanoma.

What can you do as an employee? Remember the Smokey Bear slogan about forest fire prevention, “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires”? Well, only you can prevent skin cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation and the Canadian Dermatology Association have published some great information on prevention. Heed the warnings and take these preventative measures: 

  • Cover up – wear loose clothing, long sleeves and pants
  • Protect your eyes – use UV protective eyewear
  • Cover your head, neck and ears – wear a wide brimmed hat or a hard hat with a brim and use a neck flap
  • Take your breaks in the shade – get out of the sun when you can, especially between 11am-3pm, when UV is the strongest
  • Use sunscreen and lip balm – use at least an SPF 30 broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen and don’t forget to reapply
  • Be skin safe – report changes in skin spots and moles to your doctor as soon as possible – early detection is important

You would think that with all of the information out there, we would take precautions and this alarming trend would begin to decline. However, according to a small scale survey from the Skin Cancer Foundation, only 51 percent of men reported using sunscreen in the last 12 months and 70 percent did NOT know the warning signs of skin cancer. With these survey results, you can imagine this terrible trend in new cases and deaths from melanoma will continue.

What can you do if you’re an employer?

  • Educate
    • Inform your staff about sun exposure hazards
    • Provide resources to get their attention
  • Provide Opportunity
    • Allow staff to take breaks in the shade
    • Provide ways to create shade where none is occurring naturally (like road construction)
    • Help staff find reasonably priced sunscreen or provide some to them
    • Help staff find reasonably priced clothing that can help block UV rays
    • Consider modifying schedules to limit work during the times when exposure is greatest

If we work together as employer and employee we can help reverse the trend. Here are a list of resources that can help you get started.

Skin Cancer Prevention for Outdoor Workers

Prevention Strategies

Sun Safety and Outdoor Workers

Resources for Outdoor Workers

CDC – Sun Safety

MEMIC Safety Net

Gravity Has A Hold On You

BerthiaumePosted by Richard Berthiaume

Fall-related construction worker fatalities are on the rise despite focused inspections and training, increasing 36% from 2011 to 2015 according to the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR). This increase outpaced an increase in construction employment and total industry fatalities.

Employment in the construction industry climbed to 10.3 million workers in 2016, a 16% increase from 2012 states CPWR. Meanwhile, the construction industry experienced a 26% increase in overall fatalities from 2011 to 2015. A total of 367 construction workers suffered fatal falls in 2015.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics includes other findings: 

  • 55% of fatal falls came from heights of 20 feet or less.
  • 33% of fatal falls involved falls from roofs; 24% involved ladders; scaffolds and staging accounted for 15%.
  • Roofers had the fourth highest fatality rate of all civilian occupations in 2015.

Richard Blog

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers, accounting for 37% of deaths in the industry.

Fall prevention and fall protection strategies are commonplace today, but clearly not every employer is compliant with federal OSHA standards or industry best practices.  Requiring employees to be protected 100% of the time should be the rule, not the exception. 

The statistics are staggering and emphasize the need to reduce falls and the importance of ongoing safety awareness training in the construction workforce.  The need for production should never outweigh the need to stay safe on the job site.

Check out these additional resources from, the OSHA Construction eTool, and The Center for Construction Research and Training