Complying with OSHA bandsaw safety regulations

Dealing with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is not something most employers want to face. It is often a costly and avoidable situation; however, bandsaws are dangerous pieces of equipment, and accidents inevitably happen. Therefore, it is essential to understand the regulations and procedures surrounding OSHA when a bandsaw injury occurs.

Bandsaw injuries reported to OSHA

In the United States, band saw injuries represent 11.5% of all OSHA-reported saw injuries from 1984-2017. In a 10-year period from 2007-2017, there were over 218 OSHA-reported injuries, specifically from meat band saws. Many of the bandsaw incidences reported to OSHA involved finger and hand lacerations, bruising, fractures, and in serious cases, amputation. However, there were probably countless other injuries that occurred; several studies suggest that between 20% to 70% of workplace injuries are underrecorded or not recorded at all. 

How to report a bandsaw injury to OSHA?

Typically when an injury occurs, you’re required to report the incident to OSHA within 8 to 24 hours. Failing to report the incident on time can result in fines as high as $13,260 per event

Employers must report the incident by: 

  1. In-person or phone call to the OSHA office closest to the location of the incident
  2. By phone to the OSHA toll-free line
  3. Or by submitting a form on the OSHA website

Some of the required information in each report includes:

  1. The business name
  2. The location of the work-related incident
  3. The time of the work-related incident
  4. Whether the incident involved a fatality, an in-patient hospitalization, an amputation, or an eye-loss
  5. The number of employees who suffered this type of injury
  6. The name(s) of the employee(s) who suffered the injury
  7. The name and phone number of the person to contact at the establishment; and
  8. A brief description of the incident.

What happens after you report a bandsaw-related incident with OSHA? 

Once the report is submitted, an OSHA area director will decide which category the incident will fall into. There are three categories, generally based on the severity of the injury.

Category 1: usually the most serious of incidents that require an on-site inspection and can lead to a citation (these inform the employer of any regulations or standards that may have been violated along with any penalties or fines). An incident is classified as a Category 1 if the incident involves:

  • Someone under the age of 18
  • A fatality
  • Incidences that involve 2 or more hospitalizations
  • Repeat offenders
  • The employer had similar incidences occurring within the past 12 months

Category 2: Area Directors can determine if the incident requires a site visit or if a Rapid Response Investigation (RRI) can occur. These are usually less consequential and allow employers to self-investigate and make the necessary changes to prevent further incidents. With an RRI, the Area Director may make a phone call to gather any needed information about the incident. 

Category 3: if the incident is deemed not to need an OSHA site visit, the employer can conduct their own RRI and make any required health and safety changes to their operation.

Losses from an OSHA inspection

Failing to meet basic safety standards can hurt businesses in more ways than one. When OSHA comes to inspect after an injury, there can be huge losses in production. Additionally, there’s the risk of further fines or citations on other pieces of equipment while the inspection takes place. The financial implications are serious. Many of the fines run into the thousands, with the maximum penalty for wilful or repeated violations being $145,000 per violation. 

Although a different industry, there’s a great tool by the CDC which calculates the expected cost of injuries to a business. You can access that tool by clicking the button below.

OSHA regulations and requirements with bandsaws

The OSHA has specific guidance on preventing injury when operating a bandsaw. Some items mentioned include machinery controls, operation instructions, protective equipment, and more. Here is a document OSHA created to help keep band saw operators safe. Generally speaking, OSHA will recommend that bandsaw-related businesses have more physical preventions in place so that an operator doesn’t come into contact with the blade. These may include blade guards, using blocks to push the material to the blade, or using blade-stopping technology. 

Perhaps it’s time to consider adding safety bandsaws to your production line. It’s better to improve workplace safety rather than run the risk of injury and potential OSHA investigation. When it comes to injury prevention and reducing OSHA interference, you can rely on Guardian Bandsaws. Our customers have reported no injuries to their teams since adding our safety band saws into their production line. We can help you select the model that best suits your needs, so don’t hesitate to contact us.

"We have increased our safety to a fail-safe level with no drop in productivity"

Todd Grave – Blue Sky Meats

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