It's no wonder that many people are afraid of table saws. The high-speed blade, the noise, dust, and chips flying off ... the table saw is certainly one of the tools to be respected and ALWAY use with knowledge and understanding of how it works. 

Watch it on Youtube:

 A short time ago I was informed of yet another YouTube woodworker who was injured using their table saw. I am always sorry and frustrated when I hear about these events because I have spent SO MUCH TIME talking about table saw safety and most of it can be avoided by easy simple things the operator can do.

 There is much more to table saw safety than what I am going to cover off here, but over the years I have come to see that there are 2 simple but critical things that a table saw operator can do that will drastically reduce or eliminate injury on the table saw. 

As with ANY MACHINE, we ALWAYS wear good eye and hearing protection. I don't even consider those safety items anymore, those are "must-haves" in the workshop with any tool or machine.

Table Saw Safety gear

The very first rule of using a table saw is setting the height of the blade to about a half tooth above the material of the wood you are cutting.
We do this for 2 reasons, 1) Safety and 2) a better cut from the blade.
When the blade is just above the material being cut there is less chance the operator can be cut by the blade and even if they are, with the small amount of blade the injury would be much less than if the blade is fully wound up to its top position. 

Table Saw Blade Height Safety

The second most important rule is to use a PROPER PUSH STICK that gives the operator of the saw the best control.
You can make your own push sticks or you can purchase a variety of commercial versions that are also very good.
Table Saw Safety Push Stick

Easily the WORST PUSH STICK is anything with a long handle and small notch on the end often called "chicken's foot push sticks". This kind of push stick gives the operator the poorest control and evidence of that is the fact that some people resort to using 2 of these chicken's foot push sticks. I call this double trouble because in the event something starts going wrong during the cut, BOTH the operator's hands are locked into doing what they are doing ... how can you turn off the saw? protect yourself from flying debris? make any other critical adjustment to fix the problem? ... when both hands are occupied. 

Table Saw Chickens Foot
Another table saw cut I see from time to time is people trying to break down large sheets of plywoods, by themselves, on a table saw. Unless you have a very good set-up for doing this such as large infeed and outfeed table, these kinds of cuts can result in some nasty kickbacks, not to mention damaging perfect good sheets of plywood.
For breaking down plywoods and other sheet goods I ALWAYS recommend using something like a circular saw, AND, you can get very good cuts using the proper blade in a circular saw, AND make sure the good side is down ... right!!  You do not need to go out and purchase a $1,000 track saw to break down a $40 sheet of plywood.

Watch it on Youtube:

Here is the link to one article on this, search woodworkweb for other circular saw jigs as well ... - 

Table Saw Safety Blade Hieght

As you can see in the image above, there is a lot of pressure and friction between the wood being cut, and with the blade raised so high, a lower blade will mean a better cut of the wood, and much-reduced friction and pressure, resulting in a far more controllable situation in the event the sheet goods come askew on the table saw and wants to kick back ... still the BEST PRACTICE for cutting large sheet goods are circular or track saws.

Our greatest challenge is to overcome complacency. That is, having a mindset of not necessarily respecting what the saw can do to us, and ignoring safety protocols. It is so easy to just make one last cut and not bother to lower the blade a bit or grab the wrong push stick and that's when things can go wrong. As more experience woodworkers we need to be EVEN MORE aware of what we are doing because I have seen woodworkers with decades of experience who have had serious accidents because they let their guard down and we need to keep reminding each other of these facts.  

Please always work safely.