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Table Saw Toolbox Talk

Finger Lacerated by Table Saw

Graphic of a table saw.

At a student shop on campus a student suffered an injury to their finger while making a 3” rip cut on a SawStop© table saw. Upon completion of the student’s last 3” rip cut, the student attempted to remove a cut piece of scrap material from the saw table near the rotating blade. While attempting to clear the piece of scrap material from the table saw the student’s finger contacted the blade causing the SawStop© to immediately engage its brake and stop the saw blade. For those that do not know all SawStop© table saws include a revolutionary technology that is capable of stopping the saw blade within milliseconds in the event a person comes in contact with the blade. See the attached hyperlink for a further understanding of the SawStop© technology. Even though the SawStop© saw is equipped with this technology the student still received a laceration on their finger requiring medical treatment.

The student had received the appropriate level of training on the table saw, however due to the thickness of the push stick approximately 1 ½” and the narrow width of the 3” rip cut the student had removed the guard so the push stick could slide freely in between the rip fence and rotating blade without getting caught on the saw blade guard.

Following the incident the Student Shop Manager and staff met to discuss the incident, determine the causes and to develop corrective actions to prevent future incidents. The team concluded;

  • The shop’s training primarily focused on machine set up and machine operations, but lacked information and training focused on machine operations after the cut/hole/milling was complete. With this realization the Student Shop Team has put a renewed focus on machine operations after the cut/hole/milling was complete.
  • The shop’s push stick design was reviewed to determine if a different design could accommodate narrower rip cuts without removing the saw blade’s guard.

Safety Tips for Table Saw Users:

  • There is No Warranty of Safety for SawStop© table saw users, but the severity of potential injuries is greatly reduced with its braking technology. The braking technology in SawStop© table saws does not prevent contact with the blade it minimizes the effect of the contact!

    • Use the table saw blade guard for every operation for which it can be used.

  • Never run the saw in “Bypass Mode” unless necessary to cut conductive materials. The brake system will not activate when the saw is in Bypass Mode.

  • Maintain good body position, footing and balance at all times.

    • Do not overreach or stretch to get something when using the saw.

    • Never reach around or over the saw.

  • Do not attempt to remove the cut-off portion until the blade has come to a complete stop. A user’s fingers and hands should remain clear of moving blade.

    • Always shut down the machine and wait for the blade to stop moving prior to cleaning off and or leaving the machine.

      • Additional safety procedures shall be performed prior to performing maintenance on a machine or when removing the saw’s blade, guard, splitter, throat plate, etc.

        • Review your shop’s procedures to ensure their compliant with the University’s Lock Tag Verify Program and the manufacturer’s requirements.

  • Get assistance from your shop staff if;

    • You think you have to by-pass a guard.

    • You are unsure or have a question.