Horizontal beam and vertical panel saws

Horizontal beam panel saws are used to cut panels into pieces and it can cut multiple panels at the same time.

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.

Horizontal beam panel saw

Multiple panels are stacked – either one panel at a time or the whole stack is pushed to the cut position.

These saws consist of:

  • a panel handling area about waist high where whole panels are stacked for sawing
  • a power-operated beam which clamps panels during the cut
  • a circular saw which cuts the panels - there may be a smaller powered blade for scoring prior to cutting
  • a programmable panel pusher mechanism that moves panels into position for cutting - large machines may have a rotation system to change the direction panels are presented to the saw.

Figure 1: horizontal beam panel saw

[image] Horizontal beam panel saw with labels and red arrows pointing to operational and cutting components

Hazards

  • Heavy lifting
  • Contact, impact or entrapment from moving parts or panels
  • Entanglement from contact with blades
  • Entanglement with automatic label applicator
  • Noise
  • Dust
  • Slips, trips & falls
  • Entanglement from unexpected movement (during maintenance, cleaning & repairs)

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Ear protection
  • Eye protection
  • Hand protection
  • Respiratory protection

Tasks

Task – stack the panels

Hazard

Heavy lifting

Harm

  • Strain injury

Controls

  • USE mechanical lifting aids when needed.

Hazard

Contact, impact or entrapment from moving parts or panels

Harm

  • Crush injuries
  • Bruising
  • Fractures

Controls

  • SLOPE panels back at the top at least 5° to ensure stability.
  • PROVIDE a clamp at the top, and a lip or protrusion at the support.

The panel moving mechanism or panels themselves can injure.

Task – push the panels to cut position & make the cut

Hazard

Entanglement from contact with blades

Harm

  • Deep cuts or amputation

Controls

  • FIX guarding to prevent access until the blades stop moving.
  • REPLACE guards if damaged.
  • DO NOT feed the workpiece into the blade or cut “freehand” in any way.
  • KEEP the work piece stationary and clamped.
  • USE a sectional safety curtain in front of the beam to prevent access to the clamp and blade.

Blades may be exposed or reachable before they stop turning. Clamps are provided to remove the need for reaching close to the blade. Blades with a run down time of more than 10 seconds will be a hazard if access is possible before they stop turning.

Hazard

Entanglement with automatic label applicator

Harm

  • Crush injuries
  • Bruising

Controls

  • USE a sectional safety curtain in front of the beam to prevent access to the automatic label applicator.

Some horizontal beam panel saws may have an automatic label applicator which presents a potential trap as it applies labels.

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.
  • RUN a hearing conversation programme.
  • ALWAYS WEAR hearing protection.

A safe noise level over an eight hour day is 85dB(A). A horizontal beam 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

  • PROVIDE adequate dust extraction.
  • 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 shears clear of slip and trip hazards.

Task – maintenance, cleaning & repairs

Hazard

Entanglement from unexpected movement

Harm

  • Cuts
  • Bruising
  • Crush injuries

Controls

  • LOCK-OUT all power supplies before maintenance, cleaning and repairs, or adjusting blades and guards.
  • KEEP written safety procedures, and arrange regular inspections by a competent person.
  • REMOVE or LOCK-OUT saws that fail inspection, and DO NOT USE until repaired or replaced.

Vertical panel saw

Vertical panel saws require less floor space than horizontal beam saws. Small vertical panel saws may be transported to building sites.

These saws consist of:

  • a rotating head containing the saw which turns 90° to make vertical or horizontal cuts
  • a moving beam to support the rotating head - some less complex saws leave the supporting beam fixed while the panel is moved by the operator for horizontal cuts
  • means of securing vertical panels while they are cut.

The saw either cuts automatically or the operator draws the panel across.

Figure 2: vertical panel saw

[image] Horizontal beam panel saw with labels and red arrows pointing to saw support and cutting components

Task – stack the panels

Hazard

Heavy lifting

Harm

  • Strain injury

Controls

  • USE mechanical lifting aids when needed.

Hazard

Contact, impact or entrapment from moving parts or panels

Harm

  • Crush injuries
  • Bruising
  • Fractures

Controls

  • SLOPE panels back at the top at least 5° to ensure stability.
  • PROVIDE a clamp at the top, and a lip or protrusion at the support.

The panel moving mechanism or panels themselves can injure.

Task – make the cut

Hazard

Entanglement from contact with blade

Harm

  • Deep cuts or amputation

Controls

  • FIX guards (including a self-closing guard) to isolate the blade as much as possible.
  • REPLACE guards if damaged.
  • POSITION the saw so the operator cannot access the blade from behind.

Hazard

Contact, impact or entrapment from moving parts/ejection of materials

Harm

  • Crush injuries
  • Bruising
  • Fractures

Controls

  • FIT a riving knife to minimise the risk of material ejecting.
  • Consider putting a clamp at the top , and provide a lip or overlap at the support.

Vertical panel may slip off its support. Saw support beams may move horizontally under power.

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 vertical panel 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

  • PROVIDE adequate dust extraction.
  • ALWAYS WEAR eye protection.
  • ALWAYS USE respiratory protection.

Hazard

Slips trips and falls

Harm

  • Trapping
  • Cuts
  • Bruising

Controls

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

Task – maintenance, cleaning & repairs

Hazard

Contact, impact or entrapment from unexpected movement

Harm

  • Bruising
  • Crush injuries

Controls

  • LOCK-OUT all power supplies before maintenance, cleaning and repairs, or adjusting blades and guards.
  • KEEP written safety procedures, and arrange regular inspections by a competent person.
  • REMOVE or LOCK-OUT saws that fail inspection, and DO NOT USE until repaired or replaced.

Download fact sheet

Horizontal beam and vertical panel saws (PDF 609 KB)