Anybody who’s seen an excavator saw in action knows to treat it with a healthy dose of respect. They can saw through inches of solid material like butter. Needless to say, any failure of safety protocol can spell disaster. Excavator saws chew through concrete like it’s nothing, and any equipment (or worse, limbs) in its path will be left with seriously compromised structural integrity, to put it delicately.
As part of the regular risk assessment necessary when using potentially hazardous equipment in the workplace, an excavator saw will require specific structural protection elements as well as personal safety equipment for the operator and those in the vicinity. “Just standing back” is not sufficient to address the risks presented by this powerful piece of machinery. All safety elements and components of the machine must be thoroughly checked before each use. It may sound tedious, but it could be the difference between life and death.
Here’s an outline of some of the safety equipment you’ll need to operate an excavator saw. Keep in mind that protective equipment is only one component of safety. You’ll still need to do pre-start checks and operate under regular safety procedures.
All personnel within the immediate area must be fitted with safety equipment, including:
- Ear mufflers to dampen any of the potentially deafening sound emanating from the device
- A Hardhat (or other cranial protection) to prevent any flying debris from causing damage
- Facial protection to prevent debris strikes, exposure to potentially hazardous elements in the composition of cut substances, or blindness
- Steel-toed boots to protect feet from being crushed
While modern saws are built to minimise any persistent exposure effects and therefore reduce the need for safety equipment, a failure to supply this equipment is illegal, regardless of how ‘safe’ your saw is. If it is found that your company has been negligent in the provision of safety equipment, you may be held liable for any damages or injuries sustained.
Additionally, any new or inexperienced workers should be supervised at all times when undergoing their first exposure to large operational vehicles.
Operational distance and equipment
The operator must work inside a completely screened excavator and must never operate the saw in the same plane as the blade.
On top of this, operation must be done from a safe distance – a minimum of 30 metres from the point of operation – at all times. Operators must wear all the safety equipment required to be worn by other people in the vicinity, unless it directly interferes with their ability to operate the saw.
There are several things to look for when examining your saw blade during pre-use checks.
Firstly, your blade must be compliant with both Australian law and the manufacturer’s requirements, which are listed in the operator’s manual. The blade should be checked to make sure that it is entirely secure, all of the pins are firmly attached, and that the hydraulics are set (and not frayed or in a position where they might be cut).
You may continue to use a blade until it has less than 3 mm of cutting time, or it begins to lose segments. Once a blade has lost 4 total segments or 2 consecutive ones, it is considered unsafe for use.
Once these features have been checked, the operator must conduct a test run. During the test run, everyone present must be fitted with safety equipment, or evacuated from the area.
For every hour of concurrent usage, the machine must be powered down to inspect the saw. If any of the previously mentioned invalidations are present, it must be swapped out with a new saw before work resumed. This must also be done after work has been completed for the day.
If at any time during operations, the blade begins to jostle about amongst the bolts, or seem unstable or unsafe in any way, it must also be powered down and inspected firmly until the cause of the fault has been found and remedied.
The broader working environment must also be safety compliant in order to accommodate high powered machinery such as excavator saws.
Firstly, construction work requires appropriate signage at the outer limits to warn pedestrians, who won’t have the necessary safety equipment to travel within the 30 metre exclusion zone of operation.
All people in contact with the saw must have the appropriate training and equipment, and nobody should come near the saw while it is in operation. All people who will be within 30 metres of the saw must be given comprehensive safety training and fitted with appropriate safety wear before operation begins. It is important that safety briefings are not occurring during operation, and never assume that people know the correct procedure ahead of time.
Excavator saws to hire
If you’re looking for an excavator saw to hire Solution Plant Hire have a range of saws and attachments available. We supply saws for 1.5T to 40T excavators, with a cutting depth between 410 and 950mm. We also stock a range of additional compliancy equipment for anybody lacking the tools to ensure a safe workplace with their current setup.