The NAW has a responsibility to assist its members to keep themselves safe while pursuing woodworking and provide a set of minimum safety standards that will ensure their own safety and the safety of others.


To establish a viable Code of Practice that promotes safe working habits for those engaged in the practice of woodturning:


There are many woodworkers within New Zealand who engage in the practice of woodworking as a hobby. This is mostly done in isolation, away from those who could render assistance in an emergency. A greater proportion of NAW members have no formal training and often come from professional backgrounds and have not been exposed to the safety training of the trades. This document is to provide guidelines and minimum standards that should be observed when working alone with moving machinery.



Safe systems of work are those that, when observed, keep the woodworker safe from harm. To enable the safe systems to be effective it is important that the user has eliminated, isolated or minimized all the hazards associated with the job and the surroundings. Along with this it is important that the user is familiar with and uses personal protective equipment (PPE) that will minimise the likely effects of a hazard to the user.


A hazard is defined as anything that will harm a woodworker or anyone else. Harm as defined by OSH is too broad to outline here, but in short it relates to injury from something as little as a cut needing a sticking plaster to something you need to go to the doctor for. Serious Harm is what ACC & OSH are concerned with - this is where there is a permanent loss of bodily function or even death as a result of exposure to a hazard. This could be: loss of a finger or eye or amputation and would probably result in hospitalization and a long period of recuperation.

Hazard Identification

OSH investigations of work injuries indicate that many could have been prevented if the hazards had been identified and eliminated before work had begun. The whole essence of being safe involves identifying all the hazards in the workplace and then making sure that they cannot cause harm to you or others. We are lucky that most o woodworking hazards fit into a common list and have already been identified by others. Attached at annex A is a list of these common hazards associated with woodturning.


  1. Identify the hazards
  2. Prioritise the hazards
  3. Control the hazards
  4. Dealing with accidents

1: Identifying the Hazards

OSH recommends 4 methods for identifying these that are:

By Area - involves having a plan of the area/workplace that can be divided into zones so the different hazards can be listed, these are:

By Task - This process involves describing all the actions that make up a task, in order, then analyse each step to identify all the hazards that are present and include:

By Process - Prepare a flow chart of the processes used and identify:

By Environment - does the environment in which the process is carried out have any of the following that may be hazards?

HeatWindHeightsConfined spaceUnstable stacks
ColdRadiationDustFumesHeavy Lifting
NoiseLight or Lack ofGround SurfacesClutter etc.

Every workplace is different and careful consideration is needed to determine which method is best to use for identifying your hazards. OSH produces a numbers of codes of practice and use guidelines for machinery and processes, and reading these can help identify your hazards. There are helpful lists of common hazards produced by industry, unions, machinery and tool manufacturers and individual companies. Perusing these lists and ticking the boxes is easier than identifying the hazards by yourself. Whichever method you use, it is paramount that you identify all your hazards and do something about them before they cause serious harm.

2: Prioritise the Hazards

Once you have identified all the hazards the next step is toprioritise them. By this we mean sort them, so the hazards that will cause serious harm are addressed first down to eliminating problems that cause the need for stinking plasters. Serious harm hazards in our environment involve machines like saws, electricity, falling and flying objects, dust, flammable liquids, breathable hazardous substances to name a few. All of these are present in the average woodworker's shed. If it is a hazard, it needs to be sorted out.

3: Control the Hazards

Once the hazard has been identified it needs to be investigated to understand its needs. There are three ways of dealing with the hazard:

  1. Eliminate - Remove the hazard from causing harm, e.g. faulty wiring once repaired is no longer a hazard. Installing a residual current device (RCD) in the power system will identify when a dangerous electrical fault exists and cut the power flow and no electrocution problems will occur. This is elimination.
  2. Isolate - There are some cases where a hazard cannot be eliminated in these cases you look to isolate it so it can't cause harm. An example of this is where a saw has a guard placed around it. The saw blade cannot be removed so guarding is used to protect the user.
  3. Minimise - If it is not practical to eliminate or isolate a hazard we must look to minimising the effects to the user. Minimising hazards in most cases involves using personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect the user from the hazard. The woodworking environment is ripe with hazards of this nature including: dust, chemicals, noise, revolving machinery and flying particles, to name a few. With dust, a mask or respirator is needed, with chemicals gloves, a coverall and respirator, with noise ear plugs are best so as not to interfere with eye and lung protection already being used, revolving machinery needs hair restraint and a snug fitting coverall over loose clothing and flying wood-shavings means eye and face protection that a face shield is best suited.

4: Dealing with Accidents

In a workplace or factory this is very easy, accidents are all reported and investigated and controls are put in place to prevent them from recurring. In our case we are mostly all lone woodworkers with no accident register to record our injuries, no hazard register to list our hazards and no health and safety manual to gain guidance from to avoid, or in case of, mishaps.


The National Association will be pro-active in the area of accidents and collect reports of injuries. It will also list prevention measures or assist with suggestions for those who need help. The NAW Health and Safety Officer will be responsible for the collation of injuries to woodworkers and report to the members with quarterly and yearly statistics indicating the areas of concern and the control measures used or needed. With this information at hand other woodworkers can be made aware of the dangers of woodworking and take precautions so they don't become another statistic.

The accident register will be located with the H&S officer but will require input from the membership. An appeal to the membership to report accidents will be lodged frequently in the national magazine with a destination email address and the website will have an area where members can record the same information. The Secretary of the NAW will also receive postal lists on the behalf of the H&S Officer.


NAW has a responsibility to ensure all its members have a knowledge of the Personal Safety requirements needed while engaging in woodwork activities.

Please use the links below to find additional Information on Health and Safety Related issues.

National Association of Woodworkers NZ Inc.