OSHA has increased enforcement efforts on several fronts including going after the “bad actors” under the Severe Violators Program and specific issues under National Emphasis Programs (NEP). One such NEP is for amputation hazards which include many of the hazards presented by machines in sheet metal shops such as press brakes, shears, and saws. SMACNA contractors are encouraged to inspect all tools, equipment and machines to ensure they are guarded properly.
A recent OSHA inspection at a SMACNA contractor facility identified two issues with band saws that you should look for. The initial proposed penalty was two Serious Violations of a very general machine guarding standard for a total of $5,000. Both appear to “manufacturer flaws” but something you may want to investigate.
First, on a horizontal band saw, OSHA cited the employer for failing to guard a portion of the blade exposed beyond (to the right of) the point of operation. For these saws, although the exposed blade was not in the “cutting zone”, according to OSHA it still has the potential to cause injury.
The second saw issue was with a “vertical” band saw where OSHA identified an exposed part of the blade below the table (tool rest) where the manufacturer left an opening used to access the blade tightening screw. The blade was (obviously) exposed and according to OSHA should be covered.
The issues described above can be seen on the attached photos and can be easily abated with construction of a simple guard. The contractor successfully contested these citations, however, it does point to the types of “hazards” that OSHA may look for during inspections of shops and jobsites, and various area directors may see hazards differently and could enforce this type of proposed violation.
For information on OSHA machine guarding standards, contact OSHA’s director of safety and health, Mike McCullion, at 703-995-4027 or firstname.lastname@example.org.