Woodworkers are skilled at working with their hands, but they are also adept at managing dangerous equipment and working
in high-risk environments. Knives,
saws, hammers and a variety of blades
are often seen in woodworking shops
and manufacturing facilities of all
sizes. But these dangers aren’t the only
risks that should caution woodworkers
and facility owners. Less obvious risks
also lurk in woodshops and manufacturing facilities.
In this article, we will focus on the
top dangers threatening woodshop facilities every day—the general liability
and property exposures. Whether the
business focuses on custom woodworking, closets, millwork, furniture
manufacturing or any other line of the
business, these uncontrolled exposures
could bring the entire business literally
to the ground.
1. Wood Dust
Wood dust is a nearly invisible threat
and the top hazard to woodworking
facilities. When exposed to an ignition
source, tiny, highly-combustible wood
particles can serve as the eager fuel
for fires and explosions. Wood dust
is particularly dangerous when it is
allowed to build up the way it tends to,
in cracks, crevices and corners. Wood
dust fires and explosions are often
started by open flames, uncontrolled
smoking, impact sparks, hot work
(grinding, welding, torching) or out-
of-date, faulty, or poorly maintained
To protect woodworking or manufacturing facilities from wood-dust
related fires, good housekeeping is key.
Facility owners and operators should
ensure that wood dust is not building
up and that electrical equipment is
protected or moved from any potential
buildup areas. Dust buildup any thick-er than a dime creates an exposure.
Additionally, facilities should have
dust control equipment in place. Specifically, they should use a dust control
system with its own safety shut-off and
alarm system. For example, dust control systems use a tube to suck the dust
into the dust control system. Inside a
properly engineered system, a light will
illuminate if it detects a spark caused
by a piece of metal or nail entering the
tube. When this bulb is triggered, the
dust collection system will spray a mist.
When, the spark passes through, it will
be soaked. It is basically a sprinkler
system within a dust collection system.
In addition to these dust collection systems and proper housekeeping, managers, owners and operators
should service and maintain all equipment regularly. Ventilation systems and
ducts should also be checked often to
ensure no blockage is present. At the
same time, daily cleanings should include floors, walls, ledges and ceilings
to reduce sawdust buildup.
2. Oily Rags
Oil-soaked rags have a habit of piling
up in any woodshop, from residential
home garages to commercial wood-
working shops to major manufacturers.
Though a simple tool, rags are handy
for applying stains and finishes—but
those chemicals turn the rags into
potent, highly flammable fuel for fires.
If an oily rag is then thrown in a corner
or into the trash, it could spontane-
by Chris Crucitt
firstname.lastname@example.org GUEST COLUMN
Staying safe: The top 4 risks in woodworking
Simple steps can protect your shop from suffering a disaster.
; Want more? Read more about shop safety at
About the author: Chris Crucitt is a 40-year veteran in
commercial insurance including, administration, sales,
and underwriting. Crucitt served for 10 years as vice
president of underwriting at Pennsylvania Lumbermens
Mutual Insurance Company and is now the company’s vice
president of marketing.