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Cut-off saws: Don't leave safety to chance

Updated: Mar 15

One of the handiest and most common tools on the job is a hand held powered cut-off saw. The fact that cut-off saws are relatively simple to operate makes them the go-to tool for all sorts of work. You find them in all kinds of concrete work, metal cutting, plastic and cast iron or even steel galvanized pipe, re-bar cutting, roofing materials and I saw a contractor cut tree roots with one. Most fire departments carry one on their trucks to quickly open up surfaces that resist other methods. This sort of handy versatility lends itself to the tool being used by nearly everyone. But problems can arise when the user is not trained in how to handle the tool safely. Fire departments, at least those staffed full-time, are generally pretty good at training all of their personnel in correct use of the tools at their disposal. Let's face it; pulling up to a burning vehicle with occupants leaves no time to flip through the tool owners' manual.

Cut-off saw hazards But all too often supervisors on construction jobs may allow some untrained person to do a task that is potentially dangerous, especially to an unskilled laborer. Hazards when using a cut-off saw include not only the obvious (contact of the rotating blade with any part of your body), but also:

  1. Fragments of the material being cut flying toward you

  2. Silica dust, if you're cutting rock, concrete or similar substances

  3. Sparks when cutting iron and other hard metals

  4. Back injuries caused by improper handling of these heavy hand tools

  5. Cutting wheels can shatter, sending shards of them flying everywhere

Real-world advice from people who know VISTA Training has a really cool powered cut-off saw training program that was developed in cooperation with the major manufacturer of these tools. The entire program was done on actual work sites in real-world situations with advice from truly experienced people. We have found over the last 20 years of developing the type of programs we produce that the best advice comes from the people that have done the work for a long time. And what VISTA tells you in a program is not the sort of thing that has been edited for political correctness by corporate lawyers. We train in a down-to-earth, not glossed over, real-world format that is intended to reach the audience that needs the training. It's a method that works, and we have effectively proved that. The program on cut-off saws is one more example of how well this training philosophy works. - Ray Peterson

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