Both you and the company must work together to ensure power saws are used properly. Too often, a worker will lose a finger in an accident that could have been prevented. Was the worker taking a shortcut by removing the guard? Was the equipment well maintained? By working together, accidents and lost time injuries can be avoided while efficiency and morale are improved.
Different power saws have different specifications. Know your saw(s) and follow the manufacturer's instructions. When you operate a saw you will need to follow several basic safety steps. Use your knowledge of safety in this area as a basis for good safety everywhere.
Communicate with new and experienced workers - share safety tips with each other. Your "team" player attitude will ensure that all power saws are used properly. With a good attitude, a clean work area, and equipment that is working right, you will reduce the chance of having an accident or injury.
Tragic accidents can occur when using power saws. Common injuries include:
Amputation of fingers
Eye injuries from debris or fragments
Cuts, scrapes, or being wounded by flying material
Electrocution or electric shock
The best way to avoid a minor or major injury is to follow the right safety procedures.
Safety with Saws
Are you trained in the use of the tool? Circular, sabre, jig, and reciprocating power saws each have different operations to be aware of. Use the right saw for the right job. If you don't know exactly what you're doing - ask.
Has the saw been tested and inspected recently?
Is the blade clean, sharp, or recently replaced?
Is the motor clean?
Are the power cords out of the way?
Is the work area free of tripping hazards?
Sometimes the most basic safety rules are ignored or forgotten:
Always wear safety glasses or a face shield
Use adequate hearing protection
Use respiratory protection when needed
Wear proper clothing or coveralls
Don't force the blade
Use the right blade for the job
Unplug or lockout the saw before making adjustments or changing the blade
Secure your work so it doesn't move
Make sure the material you are cutting is free of objects like nails or screws
The Hand-Held Circular Saw
Make sure the retracting lower blade guard is working freely
Be sure the retracting lower blade guard is fully returned before laying the saw down
Never hold or fix the lower guard in the open position
Don't over tighten the blade locking nut
Keep hands away from the cutting area - never place them under the shoe, guard, or material being cut
Check that adjusting keys and wrenches are removed before turning the saw on
Turn the saw off and unplug it from power before carrying it
Don't set the saw down unless the guard is in place or the blade rotation has stopped
Reciprocating power saws with jigsaw or bayonet blades are hard to guard - so be very careful. Take care that the blade is moving at full speed before you start the cut.
Always support the scrap or free part of the material being cut - especially when cutting a curve or near the end of a cut. This will keep the blade from binding. Wear your goggles and try to stay clear of the path a broken blade might take.
Only qualified operators should use radial arm or table saws. At the end of a cut, scrap can be propelled back toward the operator if the anti-kick-back pawls do not work.
Power Saw Safety at Home
Take your knowledge home from work with you every day. Just like you keep your tools in good condition at work, do the same at home.
Whatever home project you're working on, maintain your power saws in good condition. Change the blades as needed - don't "leave it in there for just a while longer", only because it's a home tool. Replace it and avoid an injury.
Your family needs to know about proper maintenance of tools. Show them why they should not use an old or cracked blade. Tell them about the potential for "kickback" and flying debris. Make sure you have a push stick, guards, proper safety goggles, and other protective equipment in your home - and then use it!
Teach all of your family the basics of operating power saws. Don't let them use a saw unless you are absolutely sure they can handle it. Play it safe - be there to help and "Show the safe way".
Be sure you have a tool with enough power for the job you are doing. Your work tools may be more powerful. At home, go more slowly and carefully. Take the time required to enjoy your work while following good safety practices. Your family is not only watching you, they depend on you to do the job right and set the example.
For more information, refer to current applicable Occupational Health and Safety Legislation.