Additional Requirements Specific to Woodworking Machinery

The risks associated with the use of woodworking machinery are high. Machines rely on high-speed sharp cutters to do the job which in many cases are necessarily exposed to enable the machining process to take place. Many machines are hand-fed where the hands of the operator are constantly exposed to danger. It is therefore critical that safeguards are in place and are effectively managed and maintained.

There is a high risk of injury at the cutters and also from the ejection of work pieces from the machine. No two pieces of wood are the same, each piece behaves differently when machined or shaped during the production process. Knots and natural changes in the direction of the grain can give rise to snatching and kickback of the work piece. Some operations can be safely carried out on more than one machine. It is important that the most suitable machine available is selected for the task. For example, for grooving, a properly guarded vertical spindle moulding machine or routing machine are most suitable. If a circular saw is used for grooving, special guards should be provided to prevent access to that part of the saw blade above the table.

Some operations are higher risk when carried out on one type of machine rather than another. For example, cutting a rebate on a properly guarded spindle moulding machine is lower risk than using the cutter block of a surface planing machine. Similarly, cutting very thin slivers of wood using a circular saw is higher risk than removing the same material by means of a surface planing machine.

Where ripping operations are carried out, a circular saw or radial arm saw should not be used unless the saw blade, at all times, projects through the upper surface of the material being cut.

A radial arm cross-cut saw should only be used for ripping operations if the machine has been designed or adapted especially for that purpose. In such cases it is essential that appropriate, additional safeguards, i.e. at least a riving knife and kickback prevention device, are used.

A risk assessment of workshop activities will identify the most appropriate machine for a particular task set and this can then be incorporated into staff instruction and workshop practice.

Limited Cutter Projection Tooling for Woodwork Machines

Limited cutter projection tooling (also known as chip thickness limitation tooling) is specifically designed and constructed to reduce the risk of injury.

The use of these tools also considerably reduces the severity of the injury if a machine operator's fingers come into contact with the rotating tool.

Where possible, limited cutter projection tooling (or other devices which achieve the same effect) must be fitted to hand-fed machines.

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