Mortisers

A mortise is a hole cut in timber to receive a tenon and make a joint. This factsheet focuses on floor-mounted and bench-mounted machines found in factories, specifically on the safety of mortisers used to make rectangular holes.

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.

A mortiser has a hollow square-sided chisel with an auger bit inside. The auger cuts a round hole through timber, closely followed by the hollow square-sided chisel, which squares the edges of the hole. One penetration makes a square hole, and repeated penetrations make a rectangular hole. An alternative for rectangular mortises is to use a toothed chain, similar to that from a chain saw.

Figure 1: Mortise

[image] Diagram with labels and red arrows pointing to mortise handling components with close up of hole cutting process

Hazards

  • Contact with chisel, chain or auger
  • Impact or contact from moving timber
  • Noise
  • Dust
  • Slips, trips & falls
  • Contact, impact or entanglement from unexpected movement (during maintenance, cleaning & repairs)

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Ear protection
  • Eye protection
  • Dust protection

Tasks

Task – Present timber to machine

Hazard

Contact with chisel, chain or auger

Harm

  • Deep cuts or amputation

Controls

  • SECURE guards over chains.
  • ONLY USE handles provided to control tools during mortising.

Task – Make the cut

Hazard

Impact or contact from moving timber

Harm

  • Bruising
  • Fractures

Controls

  • Timber MUST be securely clamped.

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 mortiser 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 to minimise dust getting the operator’s breathing zone.
  • 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 mortisers clear of slip and trip hazards.

Task – Maintenance, cleaning & repairs

Hazard

Contact, impact or entanglement from unexpected movement

Harm

  • Cuts
  • Bruising
  • Fractures

Controls

  • LOCK-OUT all power supplies before maintenance, cleaning & repairs.
  • ARRANGE regular inspections by a competent person.

Download fact sheet

Mortisers (PDF 270 KB)