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Hazards of Operating Unguarded Stonecutters and Splitters - October 2017

When used improperly or without proper training, stonecutting machines can cause amputations and other serious injuries. Workers can suffer eye and face injuries from flying rock fragments; amputations can also occur when shears or stone cutters are not guarded properly and a worker's hands or other body part is placed in the point of operation during operation.

The following measures will prevent or greatly reduce the chance that a worker using a stone cutter or splitter will suffer an amputation or other serious injury:

  • Identify the hazards of powered stone cutters and splitters prior to being used, asking questions such as the following:
  1. Does the equipment have machine guarding at the point of operation?
  2. Can the guarding be easily removed or bypassed?
  3. Does the guarding keep the operator's hands, fingers and body out of the danger area?
  4. Is there evidence that the machine guarding has been tampered with or removed?
  5. Could changes be made on the machine to eliminate the point of operation hazard entirely?
  6. Are the machine manufacturer's recommended safety procedures available to the operator and being followed?
  • Ensure stone cutters are equipped with machine guarding to prevent worker access to the point of operation, as required by 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(3)(ii) and 1926.300(b)(4)(ii). A good system eliminates the possibility of the operator or another worker placing parts of their bodies where they could be injured by hazardous moving parts. Examples of machine guarding methods include two-handed starting devices, barrier guards, remote-operator controls and electronic safety devices.
  • Conduct regular inspections and keep machinery clean and properly maintained. Good inspection, maintenance and repair procedures contribute significantly to the safety of the machine operator. Routinely inspect and maintain machinery according to the manufacturer's recommendations and good engineering practice.
  • Identify other possible machine-related hazards that may pose a risk of injury and necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), as required by 29 CFR 1910.132(d) and 1926.95(a).
  • Provide workers with PPE that adequately protects them from recognized hazards and ensure that it is used properly, as required by 29 CFR 1910.132(d)(1) and 1926.95(a). For example, provide safety glasses with side shields or face shields for workers exposed to eye hazards, face shields to protect workers' faces from flying rock chips, or gloves to protect workers' hands from cuts and abrasions from handling rock or stone.
  • Train workers on the following topics:
  1. All hazards in the work area, including machine-specific hazards
  2. Machine-operating procedures
  3. The purpose and proper use of machine guarding, including instruction in the safe use and care of the machines
  4. Procedures for addressing unsafe conditions, such as immediately reporting problems with machine guards
  5. Safe use of PPE, as required by 29 CFR 1910.132(f)
  • Provide adequate supervision and reinforce safe practices by ensuring the following:
  1. Only trained workers operate machinery
  2. Machine operators do not wear loose-fitting clothing, jewelry or other items that could become entangled in the machinery
  3. All other workers are prohibited from being near the machine during cutting operations
  4. For more information on keeping workers safe from stone-cutters, or to examine the relevant OSHA standards, go to www.osha.gov.