Band saw injuries represent 11.5% of all OSHA-reported saw injuries from 1984 through 2017.
Potential hazards associated with band saws include unintentional contact with unguarded moving blades or with a blade inside the guard housing before the blade has coasted to a stop. Kickbacks and kickdowns, particularly from irregularly shaped or rounded stock, are also a potential hazard.
This article explores safeguards to avoid band saw incidents such as flesh-sensing mechanisms, blade-housing interlocks, blade brakes and blade-tracking windows. Many of these state-of-the-art mechanisms are beyond the current regulatory and consensus standard requirements but are available now for use.
The vertical band saw, ubiquitous in the woodworking, metalworking and meat processing industries, has many safety mechanisms available, some of which are not currently required by regulatory or consensus standards organizations.
Despite the prevalence of band saws in many industries including woodworking, the hazards they pose have yet to be fully recognized. According to OSHA data, band saw injuries represent 11.5% of all reported saw injuries from 1984 through 2017 (OSHA, 2019b). Although OSHA, ANSI and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) have established regulations applicable to band saws, these standards do not address all the potential hazards associated with unintentional contact with unguarded moving blades or with a blade inside the guard housing before the blade has coasted to a stop. Further exploration is necessary into safeguards against band saw incidents and the technologies available to preclude blade contact such as flesh-sensing mechanisms, blade-housing interlocks, blade brakes and blade-tracking windows. This article discusses these mechanisms and their availability.