Background

Recently an incident occurred where an operator replaced a single diamond-tipped cutting blade of a petrol demolition saw with two blades. This was against the manufacturer’s safe use instructions.

Rotating at high speed, the blades detached and flew 50 metres across the site. While no one was injured, if a person was struck they could be killed or seriously injured.

Control measures

Demolition saw operators must follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using this equipment. This includes:

  • fitting a single blade only, unless the manufacturer specifically permits multiple blade use
  • only fitting blades that meet or exceed the manufacturer’s original blade design specifications
  • never fitting a blade larger than specified by the manufacturer
  • ensuring the saw is not used if blade guards are not in place
  • ensuring damaged blades are not used
  • protecting blades from damage during transport (blade protection should only be removed just before to use)
  • establishing exclusion zones with appropriate
  • barricading and warning signs to prevent people entering the cutting area
  • carrying out a site and equipment pre-start inspection before use.

Employers must ensure demolition saw operators:

  • follow a safe system of work (eg by using a safe work method statement)
  • are instructed in the safe operation and limitations of demolition saws and are competent in the use of the specific saw being used and the work being undertaken
  • are provided with and wear appropriate personal protective equipment such as long trousers, long sleeved shirt buttoned at the wrist, steel capped safety boots, gloves, hearing protection, respiratory protection (dry cutting), face and eye protection.

Flammable clothing (eg some safety vests) should not be worn if the sawing operation generates sparks.

Hire companies must provide clients with appropriate safe use information on the equipment when hired, including information on blade selection, installation and use.