Make no mistake, band saws are dangerous pieces of machinery. They have the potential for severe injury to an operator and also the business that employs them. Many band saws are used in industrial and meat processing environments, which are already more hazardous than other workplaces. In fact, US meat workers are three times as likely to suffer a serious injury when compared to the average US worker.
What are the common band saw injuries, and how can these negatively affect staff and business in several ways?
The most common bandsaw injuries
Bandsaw injuries most commonly occur when an operator passes a material through the bandsaw and part of their body comes into contact with the blade.
In the United States, band saw injuries represent 11.5% of all OSHA reported saw injuries from 1984-2017. To take this further, in a 10-year period from 2007-2017, over 218 OSHA reported injuries, specifically from meat bandsaws. Now, these are only the reported cases, there are probably more.
What are the major causes of bandsaw injuries?
There are so many opportunities for things to go wrong when operating a band saw. Common bandsaw safety problem areas include:
1. Lack of operator concentration or training
Proper training and concentration are among the most important elements to operating a bandsaw safely. However, even with the best band saw experience, fatigue is real in these industrial environments and injury risk is increased. It’s important that anyone who operates a band saw has appropriate training and/or supervision and has frequent breaks to prevent fatigue.
2. Dull blades and missing teeth
While it might seem more dangerous to have a sharper blade, it means less pushing and kickback to the operator. When the blade is sharp and in good condition, there’s less resistance and a chance of injury.
3. Inappropriate uniform/attire/PPE
Of course, this could fall under lack of training, but if the operator is wearing loose clothing, jewelry, or other non-appropriate band saw attire, these could get caught in the blade and cause serious injury.
4. No safety features on band saw or failing to use them
Safety features like visual and contact sensing technology help prevent serious injury. Without them, the responsibility to prevent injury is placed only on the operator.
If any of the above issues occur, like an operator losing focus, wearing the wrong clothing, or the band saw having dull blades, safety features can be that last line of defense.
How injuries affect your business
When an operator injures themselves at work, it becomes a stressful situation for everyone involved. Aside from the health risks to the operator, there are many implications to business including:
Missed time from work
Potential OSHA fines
Aside from the initial financial burdens, there is also the case of reduced productivity, worker retention, and business reputation.
Some businesses may try to cut corners on their band saw H&S to reduce cost, however, the cost to deal with an injured worker is often far greater than the cost of prevention.
The importance of safety band saws in preventing injuries
It can’t be stated enough that safety band saws are one of the best ways to prevent most of these band saw injuries. A meat processing plant near Invercargill, New Zealand, had its first year without any band saw injuries, thanks to the full rollout of the Guardian Band saw system.
Prior to using this safety band saw, they were experiencing one to two band saw-related injuries a year. The Guardian Band saw’s patented multi-view camera vision system can register a saw operator’s blue gloves in 3D. The system detects a safety zone around and up the full cutting height of the band saw blade.
So, the bottom line is, band saws are dangerous pieces of equipment that can lead to severe injury and business detriment. How much time and money can you afford to lose from band saw injuries?
Get in contact with the team at Guardian to discuss your plant’s unique needs.