Jig saws

A jig saw is a hand-held power tool that can make straight cuts or cut curves. It has an interchanging blade that can be switched to suit the material, which may be wood, plastic, or metal.

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.

The power source is usually mains electricity, although jig saws are also powered by rechargeable batteries.

Figure 1: Jig saw

[image] Jig saw with labels and red arrows pointing to key components

Hazards

  • Entanglement from contact with the blade
  • Saw action/ vibration
  • Fire/electric currents
  • Heat
  • Noise
  • Dust
  • Slips, trips & falls
  • Unexpected movement (during maintenance, cleaning & repairs)

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Ear protection
  • Eye protection
  • Hand protection
  • Dust protection

Tasks

Task – Cut the material

Hazard

Entanglement from contact with blade

Harm

  • Deep cuts or amputation
  • Potential piercing injury

Controls

  • FIX guarding.
  • POSITION the moving blade as far possible below the surface of the material being cut.
  • HOLD blades in the cut until the blade stops moving, to avoid the blade breaking when it hits the material.
  • Material MUST be held securely. Holding it by hand or by leaning on it with a knee or foot is NOT enough.

Material can become unstable during cutting, leading to loss of control. Withdrawing a moving blade during a cut can allow the blade to impact the material and break.

Hazard

Saw action/vibration

Harm

  • Vibration may injure fingers, hands, or arms

Controls

  • WEAR anti-vibration gloves to protect hands from excessive vibration.
  • LIMIT usage time and take rest periods.
  • KEEP the workpiece stationary and clamped.

The oscillating action may cause injury through exposure to vibration, especially if used for long periods.

Task – Cut the material

Hazard

Fire/electric currents

Harm

  • Electric shock
  • Burns

Controls

  • KEEP coins, hand tools, screws, and similar objects away from power tool battery terminals.
  • ENSURE battery caps are fitted during transport.
  • CONNECT mains powered saws through an RCD to protect against electric shock.
  • ENSURE saws, extension leads, and RCDs are tested regularly.

Power tool battery terminals touching metal objects can cause a fire hazard. Power tool batteries are extra low voltage (18 V is common) but designed to supply high amounts of electric current. Mains powered jig saws are a portable appliance with potential to give electric shocks if faults develop.

Other (non-mechanical) hazards

Hazard

Heat

Harm

  • Burns

Controls

  • Avoid touching the blade with fingers until it cools.

Blades heat up as they cut. When removing a blade after cutting, it may be hot enough to burn.

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 jig saw may exceed this noise intensity, particularly if it is used to cut sheet metal.

Hazard

Dust

Harm

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

Controls

  • CONNECT dust extraction to the exhaust on the saw if possible.
  • ALWAYS WEAR eye protection.
  • ALWAYS USE respiratory protection.

Hazard

Slips trips and falls

Harm

  • Cuts
  • Bruising

Controls

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

Task – Maintenance, cleaning & repairs

Hazard

Contact, impact or entanglement from unexpected movement

Harm

  • Contact or impact injuries
  • Cuts or piercing injuries
  • Bruising
  • Fractures

Controls

  • UNPLUG power or REMOVE batteries during blade changes, maintenance, cleaning and repairs.
  • When changing a blade with a hand tool, the hand tool MUST be removed before power is restored to the saw.

Saw movement can start accidentally during blade changes.

Download fact sheet

Jig saws (PDF 317 KB)