Pendulum saws

Pendulum saws have a frame suspended from a shaft over the work table, and are fitted with a single circular crosscut blade. A handle on the saw frame enables the operator to draw it forward when making a cut.

While this guidance has not been updated to reflect current work health and safety legislation (the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and regulations), it may still contain relevant information and practices to keep workers and others healthy and safe.

Please read this guidance in conjunction with all relevant industry standards that apply to you as a PCBU. This guidance will be progressively reviewed and either updated, replaced with other guidance, or revoked.

Pendulum saws are used in timber yards for cutting timber to specific requirements, and for items like pallets and packing cases. Timber is placed against the fence by hand.

Pendulum saws must be positioned to minimise the chance of contact with the transmission and the blade. Counter-balancing is placed so that the saw remains away from the back of the bench when not in use.

Figure 1: Pendulum saw

[image] Diagram showing pendulum saw with labels and red arrows pointing to cutting, guarding and handling components

Hazards

  • Entanglement from contact with blade
  • Unrestrained movement
  • Contact or impact from flying debris
  • Noise
  • Dust
  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Contact or impact from unexpected movement (during maintenance, cleaning & repairs)

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Ear protection
  • Eye protection
  • Foot protection
  • Dust protection

Tasks

Task – Position the workpiece & make the cut

Hazard

Entanglement from contact with blade

Harm

  • Deep cuts or amputation

Controls

  • FIX guarding to:
    • transmission and overhead drive
    • upper half of the blade and spindle (include an adjustable nose guard to prevent contact with blade teeth).
  • POSITION the workpiece BEFORE starting the saw.
  • REPLACE guards if damaged.
  • Stand at the SIDE of the saw blade when the saw is running.
  • USE the hand NEAREST the handle to operate the saw.
  • KEEP hands out of the line of the cut.
  • NEVER wear loose clothing or jewellery – it increases the risk of entanglement.

Blades running down to stop after a cycle present a hazard if they can be reached before they have stopped turning. Saw blades MUST stop moving within 10 seconds of power being switched off. Blades may be exposed if the saw doesn’t rest behind the fence, or if access is possible from behind the saw.

Hazard

Unrestrained movement

Harm

  • Cuts to the groin

Controls

  • USE limit chains or other means to keep the saw from moving beyond the front or back edge of the table.
  • INSTALL a latch with a ratchet release on the handle, a non-recoil spring, bumper, or other device to keep the saw from bouncing back from its idle position.

Saws with unrestrained movement can be pulled forward beyond the edge of the bench. Saws may bounce forward from the backstop.

Hazard

Contact or impact from flying debris

Harm

  • Eye irritation or damage
  • Bruising

Controls

  • Display warning signage.
  • ALWAYS WEAR eye protection.

Other (non-mechanical) hazards

Hazard

Noise

Harm

  • Hearing damage or loss

Controls

  • REDUCE noise levels by isolating machines or enclosing within noise barriers.
  • ASSESS noise levels.
  • ARRANGE hearing screenings.
  • ALWAYS WEAR hearing protection.

A safe noise level over an eight hour day is 85dB(A). A pendulum saw may exceed this noise intensity.

Hazard

Dust

Harm

  • Eye irritation or damage
  • Breathing problems, lung damage or cancer
  • Worsening of existing health problems

Controls

  • USE dust extraction equipment if cutting timber, to minimise dust getting in the operator’s breathing zone.
  • ALWAYS USE respiratory protection.
  • ALWAYS WEAR eye protection.

Hazard

Slips, trips and falls

Harm

  • Trapping
  • Cuts
  • Bruising

Controls

  • KEEP up-to-date housekeeping procedures.
  • KEEP the area around saws clear of slip and trip hazards.

Task – Maintenance, cleaning & repairs

Hazard

Contact or impact from unexpected movement
Contact with blade

Harm

  • Bruising
  • Fractures
  • Cuts

Controls

  • LOCK-OUT all power supplies before maintenance, cleaning & repairs including electrical and pneumatics.
  • ARRANGE regular inspections by a competent person.
  • REMOVE improperly adjusted saws, and cracked or defective saw blades, and DO NOT USE until repaired or replaced.

Download fact sheet

Pendulum saws (swing saws, cut-off trim saws) (PDF 328 KB)