RICHMOND, B.C. — WorkSafeBC is letting B.C. builders know they have options when it comes time to replace table saw blade guards.
While most new table saws are supplied with blade guards to prevent operator hands from accidentally making contact with the blade, table saws can be purchased secondhand without the guards, putting operators at a serious injury risk.
WorkSafeBC is cautioning employers that they are responsible for ensuring saws have effective safeguards in place, which, in the case of a table saw, means blade guards and safety devices such as push sticks and jigs.
Guards fall into two categories, a traditional-style guard that mounts on the saw’s trunnion assembly and over-arm style guards that mount on the extension table.
A bulletin from WorkSafeBC said options for blade guard replacements include buying and installing the original make and model of a guard if possible, and if the original is no longer available to install, an aftermarket guard.
A key feature of aftermarket guards to consider is if the device self-adjusts for different thicknesses of material. Guards that lack this feature must be adjusted manually by the operator.
Traditional guards include splitters, anti-kickback fingers or pawl, and spreaders of riving knives designed to reduce the risk of the blade grabbing the work piece and pushing it back at the operator (called kickback).
Over-arm guards, which are easier to adjust than traditional guards, do not include anti-kickback devices and must be added separately as required.
Power feeders can also be equipped on saws and are typically positioned directly over the blade during operations, functioning as a point-of-operation safeguard.
However, if the feeder is removed it must be replaced with an appropriate guard.
Some saws are also equipped with skin contact-sensing technology, where the blade shuts down in a split second if any part of a worker’s body touches the blade.
This technology is a secondary line of defense and must be used in combination with a guard in most cases.
For more information, search woodworking on worksafebc.com.