Tool Safety: Hand Held Circular Saws

A hand held circular saw is one of the most common and potentially dangerous tools on the jobsite. Ease of use and versatility of this saw are factors that drive decisions which put the operator at risk of injury.  It’s called a “skill” saw for a reason and not every operator has the necessary skill to safely produce quality work, in a timely manner. 

As one of the necessary “tools of the trade” it is critical that the operator has the skill and ability to use the saw correctly, ensuring their safety and the quality of the work.  So, to help maintain balance between the demands of quality, productivity and injury prevention review the following before you pick up a saw:


  • Make sure that you have read all safety materials that come with your saw.
  • Inspect the saw for serviceable condition.
  • Always wear safety glasses.
  • Check the blade guard; ensure it is working freely.
  • Ensure that the blade is proper for the material being cut.
  • Check the saw for proper blade installation and rotation.
  • Set the depth of the blade (while the saw is unplugged) so that the lowest tooth does not extend excessively beneath the wood.
  • Keep all cords clear of cutting area.
  • Use two hands to operate saw.
  • Mechanically secure stock being cut. 
  • Keep eyes on the saw while in use.
  • Remove nails, screws, fasteners, and other metal before cutting stock.
  • Let the saw come to rest before removing from the stock being cut.


  • Operate an unsafe tool or one that does not meet the manufacturer’s serviceable condition standards. 
  • Place your hand under the shoe or guard of the saw. 
  • Remove guard or prop open.
  • Hold retracting lower guard in the open position while cutting.
  • Rotate the saw up to change or check alignment while the saw is running. 
  • Force the saw in the material while cutting.
  • Carry the saw with a finger on the trigger switch. 
  • Overreach. Keep proper footing and balance. 
  • Support the work piece on your knee.  
  • Rip stock without securing the stock from movement

This is not a complete list.  Be sure to take a MEMIC Minute, go over the safety tips above, and be safe when you operate a circular saw.  For additional guidance check out the training resources from the Power Tool Institute.

A saw.