SWP-012 – Use of Hand
Safe Work Practice # SWP-012
Use of Hand-Held Circular Saws
Protecting workers from injuries associated with the use of electric-powered
hand-held circular saws.
All employees who use this type of saw.
Safe Work Practice
Maintenance according to manufacturer’s specifications
Pre-Use Inspection
Management is responsible to ensure that:
1. A Safe Work Practice is developed and implemented for the use of
hand-held circular saws
2. The tools provided by the company are in serviceable condition and are
maintained and serviced according to manufacturer’s specifications; and
3. Appropriate employee training processes are implemented.
Supervisors are responsible to:
1. Facilitate and/or provide appropriate training as necessary to their
workers on the proper use of circular saws
2. Monitor the use of hand-held circular saws by workers and ensure that
safe work practices are used by all workers and that unsafe use of the
tools is identified, and corrected.
3. Monitor the condition of tools used by workers (whether owned by the
company or by the worker) and take appropriate corrective action when
tools are defective.
4. Ensure that company tools are serviced appropriately and are maintained
according to manufacturer’s specifications.
5. Ensure that the provisions of “SWP-008 – Electric Tool and Equipment
Use - General” and of “SWP-012 – Use of Hand-Held Circular Saws”
are followed.
Workers are responsible to:
1. Read and follow the provisions of SWP-008 – Electric Tool and
Equipment Use – General.
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Safe Work Practice # SWP-012
Read and follow all of the provisions of SWP-012 – Use of Hand-Held
Circular Saws.
Inspect the saw before use. Look particularly at:
a. Proper functioning of moveable blade guard.
b. The blade for damage or dullness
c. Blade depth and bevel locking levers properly adjusted and tight
d. Blades are rated for the No-load rpm of the tool and are
appropriate for the task.
Do not use a defective saw
Adjust the cutting depth of the blade appropriate to the depth of the
workpiece. Less than the width of the tooth should protrude below the
bottom of the workpiece. (approximately ¼ inch of blade should show
below the workpiece)
Ensure that the movable blade guard always moves very positively to
the closed or guarded position when removed from the workpiece.
a. Check this each time before you put the saw down
b. Don’t put the saw down until it has stopped
Do not operate a saw where the blade guard is not in good operating
a. Never disable the moveable guard by tying or clamping it in the
open position.
b. For special cuts such as plunge cuts or compound cuts it is
sometimes necessary to hold the moveable blade guard open
manually until the workpiece will hold it open. Release the guard
as soon as the workpiece encounters the guard.
Wherever possible, always hold the saw on both the grips while cutting
(where there are two grips).
a. Keep hands well clear of the blade.
b. Never reach underneath the piece being cut!
c. Insulated grips provide additional protection from shock if the
saw encounters live electrical cords
Make it a habit to clamp or immobilize the work-piece somehow. This
reduces the possibility of binding and kickback. Do not hold the
workpiece with one hand while holding the saw and cutting with the
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Safe Work Practice # SWP-012
10. When selecting replacement blades, be sure to use a blade that meets the
original manufacturer’s specifications. Particularly, ensure the arbour
diameter and shape are correct. Use only the blade washers and bolts
provided by the manufacturer to mount blades.
11. After changing blades, visually check the blade for proper positioning
and then run the saw without cutting for a moment to ensure the blade is
properly mounted.
12. When ripping, it is always wise to use a rip fence or straight-edge to
increase the accuracy of the cut and to reduce the likelihood of blade
binding and kickback.
13. Kickback can be hazardous! It is always caused by misuse, by incorrect
operating procedures or by avoidable conditions. The following tactics
will reduce the chance of kickback:
a. Maintain a firm grip on the saw with both hands (if there are two
b. Position your arms to resist kickback
c. Position your body to the side of the blade, not in line with it
d. If the blade is binding or if the cut must be interrupted, release the
trigger and hold the saw motionless till the blade has stopped
e. Never try to remove the saw from the cut or to back the saw out
of the cut with the blade spinning.
f. When restarting the saw in a workpiece, ensure that the saw blade
is centered in the kerf and that the teeth are close, but not in
contact with uncut material.
g. Support wide panels or long, thick workpieces to minimize
binding in the kerf.
14. “Plunge” or “pocket” cuts:
a. These are cuts where the blade must be forced into the workpiece
from the top rather than from the side of the piece.
b. The hand-held circular saw is not the ideal tool for this type of
situation and an alternative such as a sawzall or jig saw should be
used if possible.
c. To make the cut:
i. Tilt the saw forward, resting the shoe on the workpiece so
the blade is above and in line with the cut, but not
touching the workpiece.
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Safe Work Practice # SWP-012
ii. Raise the movable blade guard, holding it with the left
iii. Pull the trigger, allowing the blade to reach full speed
before lowering the saw into the workpiece, using the
front of the shoe as a “hinge”.
iv. Wait until the shoe comes to rest on the workpiece before
moving the saw forward to make the cut.
Cutting Masonry
a. Use a silicone carbide abrasive cutting wheel.
b. Make successive cuts at depths less than ¼” to avoid damaging
the cutting wheel.
c. Be sure to wear appropriate respiratory protection
Cutting metal
a. Use an aluminum oxide abrasive cutting wheel
b. Set the depth of the cut between 1/8” and ¼” greater than the
depth of the material.
c. Be sure to take proper precautions to deal with the hazards to self
and others from sparks
Maintenance and lubrication should only be necessary approximately
annually, depending on the amount of use the tool receives.
Maintenance consists of:
a. Lubrication,
b. Brush inspection and replacement as required
c. Mechanical and electrical inspection and cleaning
d. Post repair inspection
After use, the tool should be cleaned. Clean any dust and debris from
the vents. If the tool is to be washed, use only mild soap on a damp
cloth. Certain cleaning agents and solvents are harmful to the plastics in
the body as well as other insulated parts.
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