Avoiding workplace risks and injuries when using circular saws

circular saw

The circular saw is one of the most important tools in anyone’s kit, because of the power and the utility value they possess.

While they are most commonly used for straight cuts on pieces of timber, these circular saws can be used on many different materials including masonry, plastic, or metal, and they can be mounted on other machinery and used in outdoor environments – the applications are almost limitless.

But like any outdoor power equipment that has a spinning blade, there are safety hazards involved with using these saws which is why it is important to recognise and mitigate the dangers.

Circular saw safety

There are several safety tips you should observe before picking up a circular saw to ensure safe operation. These include:

  • Wear proper PPE: Protective equipment is essential and this extends beyond just approved safety glasses. You should also wear proper ear protection as circular saws generate plenty of noise and also proper face masks or respirators – especially when working with plastics and metals so you don’t inhale the fibres. Thick gloves are also advised to help with the vibrations and potentially stop the blade from reaching your skin.
  • Inspect your saw: Before every use, thoroughly inspect the tool and ensure the retracting lower blade is moving freely. This guard should enclose the teeth of the blade as completely as possible and also cover up the part of the blade that is not being used while you are cutting.
  • Check your working area: Look for any cords and move them out of the way. That includes any cords that could potentially be cut through and also any cords and other debris that could be a tripping hazard
  • Ensure the blade is sharp: A dull blade is not only going to do a poor job of cutting, you run the risk of kickback and losing control of the saw. Also, inspect the flange and nuts around the blade to ensure everything is in working order.
  • Clean the saw: The build-up of dust in the motor of your circular saw can lead to electrical issues or fire that can cause major harm.

Circular saw cutting depths and why it matters

Before you turn on the saw, always ensure it is unplugged and set the depth of the blade. You want to lock it at a depth so the lowest tooth does not extend more than 0.3cm beneath the wood. If the blade goes further beyond the wood, it will be exposed and can cause harm. By embedding itself deeper through the wood, the blade is also more likely to bind or kickback which can cause serious injuries.

What to look for when you’re buying a new vs. second-hand model

If you are considering a second-hand model, give it a thorough inspection. Research the brand and their shelf life and quiz the seller on how many years it has been used for and at what frequency. Check every part of the cord and look for signs of wear. Ensure there are no noticeable defects like dents or wobbles.

If the tool is an older, battery-powered model then the battery is almost certainly close to the end of its life. And consider new, because there are excellent products available today at affordable prices.