The material may be wood or plastic, metal or meat. Band saws are set up in different ways for different materials. Larger band saws used in sawmills are outside this factsheet’s coverage.

Figure 1: Woodworking band saw

Band saws

Hazards

  • Contact with blades
  • Dust

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Hand protection
  • Dust protection
  • Eye protection

Tasks

Task – Feed timber through the bandsaw

Hazard

Contact with blades

Harm

  • Deep cuts or amputation

Controls

  • FIX guarding.
  • ADJUST the blade guide and guard within 6mm of the wood being cut to prevent fingers reaching above the workpiece.
  • USE a push stick, jig, or other aid to push small pieces of wood to the blade.
  • KEEP fingers off the line of the cut at all times.
  • ONLY cut one piece at a time.
  • DO NOT force a wide blade on a curve of small radius – make relief cuts on tight curves.
  • AVOID stacking timber pieces to ensure that the timber moves smoothly along the blade.

This can occur when pushing timber by hand into the blade of the saw. Timber MUST move smoothly against the blade as it is cut, to avoid twisting the blade, stalling, or going off the line of cut.

Other (non-mechanical) hazards

Hazard

Dust

Harm

  • Eye irritation or damage
  • Breathing problems, lung damage or cancer
  • Worsening of existing health problems

Controls

  • APPLY exhaust ventilation if possible.
  • ALWAYS USE respiratory protection.
  • ALWAYS WEAR eye protection.

Figure 2: Meat cutting band saw

Meat cutting band saw

Hazards

  • Hand drawn into blades
  • Forced product/ repetitive tasks

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Hand protection – NOT when working with tooth blades
  • Dust protection

 

Task – Feed meat into the bandsaw & make the cut

Hazard

Hands drawn into blades

Harm

  • Deep cuts or amputation

Controls

  • KEEP fingers off the line of cut at all times.
  • ONLY cut one piece at a time.
  • WEAR cut resistant gloves, but NOT when working with tooth blades. DO NOT wear steel mesh gloves.
  • ISOLATE band saws to avoid visual distraction.
  • ALLOW space near the operator to prevent accidental bumping.

This can occur when pushing meat by hand into the blade. A meat cutting band saw uses a cutting table to present meat to the blade. Because meat cuts vary in thickness, it is not possible to close the blade guard to exclude fingers.

Other (non-mechanical) hazards

Hazard

Forced products/repetitive tasks

Harm

  • Pain or discomfort in the muscles or bones
  • Fatigue

Controls

  • TAKE regular rest breaks to avoid fatigue and loss of concentration.
  • CHANGE blades regularly to enable cutting without force.

Figure 3: Metal cutting band saw

Metal cutting band saw

Hazards

  • Hands trapped by clamp
  • Heavy lifting
  • Contact with blades
  • Contact with soluble metal cutting oil

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Hand protection – NOT when working with tooth blades
  • Dust protection
  • Respiratory protection
  • Eye protection
  • Face protection

 

Task – Load and secure the metal

Hazard

Hand trapped by clamp

Harm

  • Crush injuries

Controls

  • FIX guarding.
  • SECURE metal workpieces in the vice only when the blade is stopped.

A metal cutting band saw uses a clamp to secure the metal while the blade saws through it.

Hazard

Heavy lifting

Harm

  • Strain injuries

Controls

  • Support the workpiece on extension tables or roller trestles when necessary.
  • GET HELP to lift large workpieces.

Task – Make the cut

Hazard

Contact with blades

Harm

  • Deep cuts or amputation

Controls

  • FIX guarding.
  • ADJUST the blade guide and guard as close to possible to the product being cut.
  • ISOLATE band saw from traffic/ walkways to avoid distraction.

Other (non-mechanical) hazards

Hazard

Contact with soluble metal cutting oil

Harm

  • Dermatitis
  • Breathing problems
  • Can cause illness, or worsen existing health problems

Controls

  • CLEAN or FILTER fluids and ensure timely replacement.
  • USE respiratory protection, gloves, and eye protection when handling cutting fluid.

Hazards concerning all bandsaws

Hazard

Entanglement from contact with blades

Harm

  • Deep cuts or amputation

Controls

  • KEEP fingers away from the blade.
  • FIX guarding, with interlocks on the guards over the band wheels to avoid entanglement.
  • ADJUST guards as close as possible to the workpiece.
  • ISOLATE saws to avoid visual distraction.
  • ALLOW SPACE near the operator to prevent accidental bumping.
  • WEAR cut resistant gloves, but NOT when working with tooth blades. DO NOT wear steel mesh gloves.

Operators can be distracted by people moving around, which may lead to fingers contacting the blade. Changing or fitting the band saw blade can result in contact with sharp teeth.

Band saws may develop a regular “click” if the blade cracks and is likely to break. If a click is heard, saws should be turned off and not used until inspected and repaired.

Hazard

Entanglement from contact with moving blade running down

Harm

  • Deep cuts or amputation

Controls

  • When run down is more than 10 seconds, either:
    • PURCHASE new band saws with brakes, OR
    • RETROFIT with suitable braking.

People can mistakenly believe the blade has stopped. Stopping time after power is turned off should be no more than 10 seconds.

Other (non-mechanical) hazards

Hazard

Noise

Harm

  • Hearing damage or loss

Controls

  • REDUCE noise levels by isolating machines or enclosing within noise barriers.
  • ASSESS noise levels.
  • ARRANGE hearing screenings.
  • ALWAYS WEAR hearing protection.

A safe noise level over an eight hour day is 85dB(A). Band saws may exceed this noise intensity.

Hazard

Slips, trips and falls

Harm

  • Contact or impact injuries
  • Bruising
  • Cuts

Controls

  • KEEP up-to-date housekeeping procedures.
  • KEEP the area around saws clean and clear of slip, trips and fall hazards like waste material.

Waste material underfoot can cause slips and falls.

Task – Maintenance, cleaning & adjustments

Hazard

Exposed blades

Harm

  • Cuts

Controls

  • LOCK-OFF all power supplies before maintenance and cleaning, or adjusting blades and guard.
  • WEAR cut resistant gloves, but NOT when working with tooth blades. DO NOT wear steel mesh gloves.

Hazard

Moving parts

Harm

  • Entanglement or trapping injuries

Controls

  • LOCK-OFF all power supplies before maintenance and cleaning, or adjusting blades and guard.
  • WEAR cut resistant gloves, but NOT when working with tooth blades. DO NOT wear steel mesh gloves.

Steel mesh gloves can get caught and draw hands into the machine.