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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

Guarding woodworking band saws

Maralyn Kastel - Thursday, September 16, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of presenting a short seminar for one of our clients and as they are specialists in machine guarding here’s a reminder about guarding band saws.

Unguarded bandsaws can allow hands and fingers to come into contact with the blade. Lack of guarding also allows workers’ clothing to become entangled in the exposed bandsaw wheels. If a blade is dull or has teeth missing, the material being cut can judder or kick back. These risks can result in serious injuries, including amputations and lacerations.

What's the solution?
Simple really, bandsaws must be guarded. It must prevent access to the bandsaw blade, while allowing the worker to see the material being cut. If necessary, a push stick can be used to guide the work piece through the process, allowing the worker to keep their fingers and hands clear of the blade. The following guards are the most effective to reduce or eliminate the risk of injury:

  1. Interlocked guards – Interlocked wheel guards prevent removal or opening of the guards while the bandsaw is operating. This will immediately cut power to the machine.
  2. Fitted guards – Install a height-adjustable guard over the exposed section of blade on the bandsaw. Position the guard just above the height of the material the blade is cutting. Make sure the guard is adjustable to allow for cutting materials of varying thickness.
  3. Use the bandsaw brake pedal to stop the cutting blade before any adjustment of the blade or cutting new material.

Keep bandsaw blades well-maintained and sharp. Vibration-free equipment will enable better and faster cuts and improve blade life. Wear patterns on the blade can indicate the band wheels need to be adjusted or the blade guide is misaligned or worn and needs to be replaced.

Safety Tip Make sure you train your workers to use the machine and do refresher training – use a work method statement and adjust to suit your specific operations. Record the training in work health & safety training register and schedule regular maintenance and inspections and finally document the testing of interlocked guarding by a competent person such as an electrician.

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