Safety While Using A Portable Saw

Alan, one of our long-time Safety Concepts readers, and an avid DIY-er sent us some safety tips while using a portable saw. Thank you, Alan.

Safety with Portable SawsIf you are a do-it-yourself kind of person, or you’re in a workplace where you need to use power tools, one of the things you probably regularly come in contact with is a portable saw.

Many people don’t appreciate the dangers in using these types of tools. A portable saw is a very powerful device with the purpose of cutting things. Whether that means a piece of wood or a body part, it can’t tell the difference and will just do what it is designed for. For this reason, safety must be your main priority. Here are some tips to follow:

Before Picking Up the Saw

Take note of what you are wearing before you use a portable saw. Do you have long hair? Are you wearing clothing that is loose? How about dangling jewelry? Any of these things can get caught in the mechanism of the saw and cause you injury. Remove jewelry and reign in baggy clothing. If you have long hair, tie it back securely before you get to work.

The Plug

You should never leave a portable saw plugged in when you are not using it. Indeed, don’t plug it in until it’s time to use it. If there is any damage to the lead or plug, do not use the equipment! Follow your work’s safety procedures and have the equipment checked or replaced as soon as possible. Electricity is not something to play with.

Saw Blade

Before you plug in the saw, check to see if you have the right blade in the saw. Different blades are made for cutting different materials. If you use the wrong one you could cause damage to the saw or worse, break the blade and create a metal projectile.

Cutting Area

What are you cutting? Is the cutting table secure and the item to cut securely held in place? Any of these things being less than secure are sure to cause an accident.

Cover Your Eyes

Even a properly working saw can kick up debris that can get in your eyes. You should always wear some form of eye protection when using a portable saw.


Before you cut with a saw you need to make sure the cord is not in the area you are going to cut. This will keep you from cutting through the cord. This may seem like common sense, but there have been a number of close calls when workers have only become aware of how close they were to cutting the electrical lead after another worker pointed it out, or they stopped for a breather…. pure luck was on their side.

Make sure you place both hands on the saw so you can control it well as you use it.

Remember, as you begin to use a saw, and hit the material to be cut, it will most likely kick back towards you. Anticipate this and make sure you have a good hold on the saw before you start cutting.


Once finished – be sure to switch off the saw immediately, unplug it, put the saw away safely, store leads, and remove any debris that could be a hazard.

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Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

Comments (4)

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  1. Rustum Suleman says:

    Hearing protection like ear muffs/plugs should also be used.
    Also it would be wise to adjust the cutting depth of the blade depending on the thickness of the material to be cut.

  2. Les Henley says:

    Along with checking the plug and the saw blade, you should also check that the BLADE GUARD is in place and working properly.

    BLADE GUARD: When fitted and working properly it should:
    1: cover the entire blade when the saw is resting,
    2: slide open easily to allow it, when the saw is operating, to slide freely along the cutting surface and
    3: spring back quickly (spring return) to cover the blade when the saw is lifted off the material being cut or when the cut is finished.

  3. Cyril Fegan says:

    Portable Saw Safety
    Always make sure that the floor area where you are working is clean and clear of any material (off-cuts) that could foul the saw power cable as you are making the cut.
    When using a portable saw it is important that the power cable is free to travel the distance of the cut and not get caught before the cut is completed. I usually drape the power cable over my shoulder and pass the saw over the work to make sure that the cable doesn’t catch before the cut is completed.
    Safety is No Accident!

  4. Another Item to mention is: Never rest or place the tool on your body ever. Whether it is a brain snap or not thinking about what they are doing but too many investigations identify that the worker was resting the tool on their body when ‘something’ happened.
    This occurence usually happens when the worker is Hungry, Angry, Lazy or Tired.

    H.A.L.T: is a handy acronym to remember and outlines some of the risk factors that influence behaviour in the workplace.

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