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Cut-off saws: Safety do’s and don’ts


Photo: Missouri Department of Transportation

Commonly used by construction workers, cut-off saws “can be extremely dangerous because unguarded blades operate at very high speeds,” the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations cautions. The agency has created a list of do’s and don’ts.


  • Wear safety shoes, fitted clothing, safety glasses, hearing protection and a hard hat while operating the saw.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommended blade specifications for materials to be cut.
  • Inspect the cutting blade for warping and damage before startup and clean the air filter.
  • Test newly mounted blades at normal operating speed for 30 seconds, with the guard in place, before beginning use.
  • Keep all parts of your body away from the blade while it’s running.
  • Maintain good balance and footing, using both hands and a firm grip on the handles.
  • Run the saw at full throttle and use the bottom of the blade while cutting.
  • Keep water continuously running on the blade while cutting concrete or asphalt to keep dust concentration below established exposure limits.
  • Ensure the blade doesn’t become pinched in the cut.
  • Run the saw for 30 seconds after finishing a cut to allow water to be thrown off the blade.
  • Use caution when handling fuel. Never add fuel while the saw is running or near an ignition source.


  • Allow bystanders in the work area while you’re using the saw.
  • Cut in the vicinity of anything flammable – most cutting procedures produce sparks.
  • Use the saw without the blade guard in place.
  • Exceed the maximum operating speed marked on the blade.
  • Jam or wedge the blade into a cut.
  • Grind on the side of the blade or cut with the top or front of the blade.
  • Cut dry, except with a blade specifically designated for dry cutting by the manufacturer.
  • Operate a damaged, improperly adjusted or improperly balanced saw.

“Only personnel who have been trained on proper use and handling should be allowed to operate this specialized piece of equipment,” DOLIR says.

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