Band Saw Risk Assessment

Risk Assessment

All machine safeguarding should start with a risk assessments for the specific task, application, and environment. A great place to start that assessment is with consideration of OSHA 1910.212(a)(1):

“One or more methods of machine guarding shall be provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards such as those created by point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks. Examples of guarding methods are-barrier guards, two-hand tripping devices,electronic safety devices, etc.” [OSHA 1910.212(a)(1), General requirements for all machines.]

Having said that, risk assessments for standard shop tools share many similarities and the discussion below will help to identify hazards and remediation strategies.

Most Significant Band Saw Hazards

The most significant band saw hazards are:

  1. Contact With the Blade

    Blade guards are explicitly required by OSHA yet normal operation of a band saw requires the working part of the blade to be exposed. We must therefore consider additional hazards through an analysis of the normal interaction of an operator with the machine.

  2. Contact With Rotating Parts

    Rotating parts, including the motor drive pulley and band wheels, can cause significant injury if not properly guarded.

often unconsidered risks

During a normal cutting operation, the most significant hazard is an operator slipping, misjudging, or otherwise coming into contact with the blade. During these operations fences, jigs, and push sticks should be used to keep operators clear. At the conclusion of a cutting operation, operators are often required to clear the table insert, remove debris, or retrieve their material cutoff - putting them within centimeters of the blade. Band saws are known to coast (with continual motion of the blade) for as long as two minutes after they are shut off so this post-process action by the operator puts them at risk of contacting a moving blade, despite the fact that the tool is off (OSHA Accident Report Example). Additionally, an operator may come up to a machine that is still coasting from a previous operation and unknowingly come into contact with a moving blade during machine setup. For these reasons, a coasting band saw blade is considered a point-of-operation hazard under OSHA 1910.212(a)(1) and it must be mitigated with a braking system.

mitigation strategies

Mitigation Legend
Mitigation strategies focused on prevention are coded green.
Mitigation strategies focused on lessening the severity of an incident are coded red.
For items that contribute to both prevention and lessen the severity of incidents, the more pessimistic coding is shown.

Band Saw Safeguards and Mitigation Strategies

Activity Hazard Mitigation
Making A Cut Operator contact with moving blade.

• The use of fences, jigs, and push sticks during normal cutting operations.
• Proper height adjustment of blade guard [OSHA 1910.213(i)(1)].

Before/After Cut Operator contact with coasting blade.

• Bring the saw blade to a controlled stop before the operator leaves or reaches near the blade by installing a motor brake [OSHA 1910.212(a)(1)].

Emergency

An immediately hazardous situation requring quick remediation.

• Stop the blade quickly with a friction or motor brake.
• Approved and accessible emergency stop button [NFPA 79].

Maintenance
or Outage

Operator contact with rotating parts
or moving blade

• Install anti-restart protection [1910.213(b)(3].
• Approved lockout/tagout means and procedures [OSHA 1910.147].

An All-In-One Solution

The MAKESafe Power Tool Brake is a plug-and-play braking solution that also includes anti-restart and emergency stop. All you have to do is plug it in, perform a calibration that takes less than five minutes, and you’ve added multiple machine safeguards to your band saw. See the product demonstration video and specifications for more information.

Other Band Saw Safeguard Requirements

After the risk assessment is complete, be sure that your planned safeguards also comply with these explicit requirements.

  • All portions of the saw blade shall be enclosed or guarded, except for the working portion of the blade between the bottom of the guide rolls and the table [OSHA 1910.213(i)(1)]. Most band saws manufactured since 1970 include a blade guard that covers the blade between the roller guide and the body of the saw.

  • The pulley mechanisms must be fully enclosed [OSHA 1910.219(d)].

Scope: The information above is intended for standard vertical and horizontal band saws. Additional requirements for resaw and automatic-feed band saws are not included.