This Safety and Health Information Bulletin is not a standard or a regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to comply with safety and health standards and regulations promulgated by OSHA or by a state with an OSHA-approved state plan. In addition, the Act's General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1), requires employers to provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
The purpose of this Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB) is to:
This SHIB describes prevention methods such as:
Stone-cutting machines, also called stone masons, stone cutters, stone splitters, and rock cutters, have hydraulically operated rams to split and cut various types of stone products used mainly for decorative purposes in the landscaping industry. The machines are produced in both stationary and mobile models. Their high-pressure hydraulic systems may be driven by combustion engine (gasoline/diesel) or electric motor.
Point of operation is the area on a machine where work is performed on the material being processed - that is, the actual mechanical action such as cutting.
Stone-cutting machines with unguarded cutting blades can cause amputations and other serious injuries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010 (the most recent detailed data), 180 injuries occurred while using shears, which operate similar to stone cutters. Of these injuries, 100 were amputations and 50 were described as cuts, lacerations and punctures. Amputations can 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.
OSHA's Englewood, Colorado, Area Office investigated a landscaping products company that used a stone splitter to cut decorative rocks. Each rock was lifted by a forklift to a rolling conveyor table where the operator placed the rock under the cutting blades or the "point of operation" by hand. The operator then operated the hand controls with one hand and held the back of the stone with the other hand. This method of operation puts the operator's hand within inches of the unguarded point of operation and could result in severe injury, including amputation. In addition, the rock-splitting process often results in flying rock chips, which presents a hazard to the operator's eyes and face.
The Englewood office's investigation found that many of the stone cutters available for purchase pose amputation hazards because, typically, these machines are not designed with adequate machine guarding to prevent the operator from reaching into the point of operation.
OSHA worked with the stone splitter manufacturer and the landscaping company to retrofit the machine with two-handed controls, which prevented worker access to the point of operation. A cycle-initiation method was installed that requires constant, simultaneous pressure from each hand on two separate controls to move the cutting blades. If the operator removes either hand from either of the controls, the blades will stop immediately. This type of machine-guarding configuration is known as a "two-hand control."
The modification was easily engineered, relatively inexpensive, and readily accepted by the operators.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their workers.
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:
29 CFR 1910.212(a)(3)(ii) and 29 CFR 1926.300(b)(4)(ii) require employers to guard the point of operation of machinery to prevent workers from having any part of their body in the danger zone during operating cycles.
Amputations from point-of-operation hazards, and eye and face injuries from flying rock chips, may result when workers use stone-cutters and splitters. Amputation hazards can be prevented by equipping stone cutters and splitters with two-hand controls or other devices that will prevent worker access to the point of operation, as well as providing adequate training in the safe operation of stone splitters. Eye and face injuries can be prevented by providing and enforcing the use of adequate eye and face protection.
The resources listed below provide more detailed information on machine guarding, controlling amputation hazards, and PPE use.
What Workers Need to Know
Machines with unguarded cutting blades (at the point of operation) can cause amputations and other serious injuries.
Tell your employer if the stone-cutting machine you are using does not appear to be safe.
Is there a hazard?
What employers need to do to prevent injuries:
How OSHA Can Help
OSHA has compliance assistance specialists located in most OSHA offices throughout the nation who can provide information to employers and workers about OSHA standards, short educational programs on specific hazards or OSHA rights and responsibilities, and information on additional compliance assistance resources. Contact your local OSHA office for more information.
OSHA's On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing safety and health management systems. To locate the OSHA On-site Consultation Program nearest you, call 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA) or visit OSHA's Small Business page.
Workers have the right to:
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