Circular saws are extremely light-weight, high-speed, handheld power saws that have become nearly indispensable at work today. They are versatile and accurate tools designed to cut everything from wood to plastic, and light-gauge sheet metal.
A worker several months ago, was holding a board with one hand and using a skill saw with the other to cut the material. As the worker cut the board, he ran the saw across his knee cap sustaining a serious injury.
Please review the following safety guidelines for circular saws:
Personal Protective Equipment:
- Eye protection is extremely important and must always be worn when using circular saws. When operations pose potential eye injuries, adequate and appropriate protection must be selected.
Use a face shield, protective goggles, or approved safety glasses depending on the job.
- Hearing protection may be required due to the extreme noise levels generated, especially during extended use.
- A respirator or dust mask may be required, depending on the material being cut.
- Do not wear loose clothing, long-sleeves, or gloves while operating a circular saw.
Electrical and Maintenance:
- Check that the electrical circuit to be used is of the proper rating and that cords, plugs, and fittings are intact and secure. All circular saws must be grounded unless they are double insulated.
- Use only extension cords that are free of splices, taps, bare wires, or frayed and deteriorated insulation. Do not use extensions over 100 ft. long due to the power drop.
- Operate only properly maintained equipment. Check that the spring-loaded on/off trigger switch functions properly. If any operational problems are noted, remove the circular saw from service and get it repaired immediately.
- Be aware of your surroundings and always on the lookout for hazards. Avoid using circular saws in a wet environment.
- Always cut material on an elevated work platform. Never attempt to cut any material lying on the ground or by simply holding the material in your opposite hand.
- Be aware of the position of the cord. Always clear the cord before making the cut.
- Inspect all material prior to cutting. Look for defects such as knots in the wood, nails and screws, or any obstruction that may impede the cut.
- Always inspect the saw prior to operation, ensuring the blade is tight and guards are fully functional.
- Never pin back or otherwise disable the retractable guard.
- Unplug the saw when changing blades or making adjustments for depth or angle.
- After tightening the blade or making other adjustments, be sure to remove wrench before operating the circular saw.
- Maintain the saw and use only sharp blades or non-defective abrasive wheels free of distortion, cracks, or heat damage. A ring test may be performed on blades prior to installation to determine soundness.
- Always store and discard saw blades in a safe responsible manner.
- When the saw is not in use unplug the saw and place the saw out of the way with the blade facing down.
- Always use the proper tool for the job. When not in use, store circular saws in a dry, secure location.
Conclusion: Citations for the removal of saw guards are frequently issued to employers by LNI/DOSH. Improper use of circular saws and removal of the guards have caused loss of fingers, terrible lacerations, and even the loss of life.
Excuses for removal or blocking of saw guards are not worth the risk of serious injury. If the job cannot be accomplished with the guard functioning properly put the job on hold, and repair or replace the saw, then finish your task once you have a safe piece of equipment to use.
Download a PDF of this ToolBox Talks