Thicknessers

Thicknessing machines are mainly used on timber that has already been straightened on a surface planer.

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.

Timber is fed into the machine under anti-kickback fingers to a power-driven feed roller that presses timber down on to the table and passes it under knives in the cutter block.

Figure 1: Thicknessing machine

[image] Thicknessing machine with labels and red arrows pointing to guarding and supporting components

Hazards

  • Contact or impact from thrown timber
  • Contact with cutters
  • Entanglement from contact with roller
  • Noise
  • Dust
  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Contact with exposed blades and moving parts (during maintenance, cleaning & repairs)

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Ear protection
  • Eye protection
  • Dust protection

Tasks

Task – Feed timber into machine

Hazard

Contact or impact from thrown timber

Harm

  • Bruising
  • Fractures

Controls

  • KEEP anti-kickback fingers sharp, clear of wood waste, and secured by a stop bar.
  • POSITION the thicknesser to prevent timber hitting people.

Timber may be thrown from the cutters becoming a projectile, especially when a thinner piece of timber is presented to the cutters between two thicker pieces (difference in thickness may be too small to detect).

Hazard

Contact with cutters

Harm

  • Deep cuts or amputation

Controls

  • SECURE guards over the cutters and saw blade.
  • DO NOT wear loose clothing or jewellery, to avoid entanglement.
  • Tie back long hair.

Hazard

Entanglement from contact with roller

Harm

  • Trapped hands
  • Crush injuries

Controls

  • SECURE guards over the cutters and saw blade.
  • DO NOT wear loose clothing or jewellery, to avoid entanglement.
  • Tie back long hair.

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 thicknesser 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 in the operator’s breathing zone.
  • ALWAYS USE respiratory protection.
  • ALWAYS WEAR eye protection.

Hazard

Slips trips and falls

Harm

  • Contact or impact injuries
  • Cuts
  • Bruising from falls

Controls

  • KEEP up-to-date housekeeping procedures.
  • KEEP a clear work space around the machine.
  • PROVIDE a non-slip floor surface.

Task – Maintenance, cleaning & repairs

Hazard

Contact with exposed blades

Harm

  • Deep cuts and amputation

Controls

  • LOCK-OFF all power supplies before maintenance, cleaning and repairs.
  • KEEP anti-kickback fingers sharp and clear of wood.
  • KEEP written safety procedures, and arrange regular inspections by a competent person.
  • REMOVE or LOCK-OUT thicknessers that fail inspection, and DO NOT USE until repaired or replaced.

Hazard

Contact, impact or entanglement from moving parts

Harm

  • Trapped hands
  • Crush injuries
  • Bruising
  • Fractures
  • Cuts

Controls

  • LOCK-OFF all power supplies before maintenance, cleaning and repairs.
  • KEEP anti-kickback fingers sharp and clear of wood.
  • KEEP written safety procedures, and arrange regular inspections by a competent person.
  • REMOVE or LOCK-OUT thicknessers that fail inspection, and DO NOT USE until repaired or replaced.

Cutters may have overrun time after the power is turned off.

Figure 2: Thin timber being fed into thicknesser

[image] Man feeding thin piece of timber into the machine; red arrow pointing to baseboard under the timber

Note use of baseboard under thin timber.

Figure 3: Side view of feed rollers, cutters and anti-kickback device

[image] Cross-section with arrows indicating direction of rotating components and operational parts

Download fact sheet

Thicknessers (surface & thicknessers, under and over planers) (PDF 372 KB)