OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.

July 12, 2002

 

 

MEMORANDUM FOR: RICHARD SOLTAN
REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR
 
ATTENTION: KENNETH GERECKE
DEPUTY REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR
 
FROM: RICHARD E. FAIRFAX, DIRECTOR
[DIRECTORATE OF ENFORCEMENT PROGRAMS]
 
SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR GUIDANCE ON SAWS OPERATED ON
"CUT-CLIMB/REVERSE-ROTATION" MODE

 


This is in response to your May 15, 2002 memorandum to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) [Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP)]. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any questions not delineated within your original correspondence. You are requesting guidance regarding a saw manufacturer's (USNR-Woodland Division) position regarding the use of non-kickback fingers, 29 CFR 1910.213, Woodworking Machinery Requirements.

Scenario: USNR-Woodland Division's position is that non-kickback fingers are not required when operating saws in a "climb-cut" mode (also known as a "reverse-rotation" mode), as compared to a "conventional-cut" mode (also known as a "power-cut" mode). When operating in a "climb-cut/reverse-rotation" mode, the manufacturer states that the saw blade rotates away from the operator towards the out-feed end of the machine. In this operational mode, it does not create a kickback force that is normally experienced in saws operating in the conventional-cut mode.

In addition, Region III has concerns around potential flying debris hazards from the out-feed end of saws operating in a climb-cut/reverse-rotation mode and that saws can be rewired to operate in a conventional-cut/power-cut mode without non-kickback fingers.

Question: How does the "reverse-rotational/climb-cut" mode of operation affect the applicability of enforcing 29 CFR 1910.213(c)(3) and 29 CFR 1910.213(f)(2) standards?

Response: We have contacted and have received additional information from the manufacturer. The information has explained the principles and technological advances behind saws operating in the "reverse-rotational/climb-cut" mode. The reverse rotation of the blade has eliminated the hazard of kicking back materials towards the operator. Based on the above information, OSHA would classify the operation of saws in the "reverse-rotational/climb-cut" mode without non-kickback fingers as a de minimis violation, according to the Field Inspection Reference Manual, paragraph C.2.g.(3), page III-20.

However, the manufacturer has indicated that an end-user can modify the "reverse-rotational/climb-cut" mode saws by rewiring them to operate in the "conventional-cut/power-cut" mode which then would require non-kickback fingers. When the modified saws operate in the conventional-cut/power-cut mode, the manufacturer has provided each end-user with non-kickback fingers and placards requiring them to be installed. OSHA would cite the referenced 29 CFR 1910.213(c)(3) and 29 CFR 1910.213(f)(2) standards when saws are operating in the conventional-cut/power-cut mode without the installation of non-kickback fingers.

Furthermore, the manufacturer has provided every end-user with an exhaust tunnel, or with technical drawings for an exhaust tunnel, to direct debris from the out-feed of the saw. OSHA, would cite the applicable 29 CFR 1910.213 standard when exhaust tunnels are not installed and employees are exposed to struck-by hazards from flying debris.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the [Office of General Industry Enforcement] at (202) 693-1850.