OSHA Standard 1926.300(a) All hand and power tools and similar equipment, whether furnished by the employer or the employee, shall be maintained in a safe condition.
Always wear proper PPE when operating any handheld power saw. Wear eye protection, preferably goggles or safety glasses with side protection, and depending on the task, face protection may be recommended as well. Wear closed-toed work shoes, with a good tread, for stability. Dust masks and hearing protection may also be recommended.
To minimize the risk of injury due to kickback, the operator must take all precautions to prevent the blade from stopping without warning and reduce the chance of being struck if the saw does stop suddenly.
- Do not use a power saw that is too heavy for you to lift and control.
- Ensure the saw blade is clean and sharp. Dull blades or blades sticky with sap or other materials are more likely to bind up in cuts.
- Always use the proper blade for the material being cut and maintain sharp blades.
- Do not stand directly behind the saw and do not lean into the cut to reduce the chance of being struck in the event of kickback. Maintain your balance and footing at all times.
- Never allow the blade to overheat.
- Do not make off-center or crooked cuts, only cut in straight lines.
- Remove cracked or damaged saw blades from service.
When using any power saw, but especially with handheld circular saws, there is an even greater risk of operator contact with the turning blade.
OSHA Standard 1926.304(d) Guarding. All portable, power-driven circular saws shall be equipped with guards above and below the base plate or shoe. The upper guard shall cover the saw to the depth of the teeth, except for the minimum arc required to permit the base to be tilted for bevel cuts. The lower guard shall cover the saw to the depth of the teeth, except for the minimum arc required to allow proper retraction and contact with the work. When the tool is withdrawn from the work, the lower guard shall automatically and instantly return to the covering position.
Using a handheld power saw to cut masonry, concrete, stone, or other silica-containing materials can generate respirable crystalline silica dust. When inhaled, the small particles of silica can irreversibly damage the lungs.
The power saw, and the saw’s dust-control equipment, must be operated and maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions to minimize dust emissions. Check that hoses are securely connected and are not cracked or broken. Adjust nozzles so that water goes to the blade and wets the cutting area. Inspect the saw blade before use to be sure it is in good condition and does not show excessive wear.
Wet cutting indoors or in enclosed areas may not reliably keep silica exposures low, so extra ventilation or a means of exhaust may be needed to reduce visible airborne dust. Extra ventilation can be supplied by using:
- Exhaust trunks
- Portable exhaust fans
- Air ducts
- Other means of mechanical ventilation
Ensure air flow is not impeded by the movements of employees during work, or by the opening or closing of doors and windows. Position the ventilation to move contaminated air away from the workers’ breathing zones.
Where water is used to control dust, electrical safety is a particular concern. Use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) and watertight, sealable electrical connectors for electric tools and equipment.
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