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Pipe Cutting & Safety

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  • Pipe Cutting & Safety

    This story unfortunately happens all to often; a worker cutting distribution piping is injured or killed while preforming a typical maintenance activity. Manufacturers of these devices (Stihl, Husqvarna, ICS, etc.) blame the workers for not using the tool properly, unsafe working conditions or lack of proper PPE (personal protective equipment - face guards, helmets, gloves, etc.), but the reality is these devices are intrinsically unsafe. An exposed blade with a tremendous amount of energy restrained only by the workers physical limits.

    The use of these types of tools, in these types of environments needs to come to an end
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    The number of injuries is far too high; every city I visit there is one guy in the crew that has shown me evidence of their close encounter
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  • #2
    Same story, different day and the entrenched management mindset in this industry is disturbing when trying to show them a better, safer way to manage exposure. The following quote comes to us from a water department supervisor (who will remain anonymous for obvious reasons):
    Look we employ idiots to turn valves, if they get hurt we will just replace them!
    I wish this was the exception, but sadly it is not. The typical story follows the same sequences:
    1. Meet, talk and demonstrate new products/technology to improve work flow and reduce risk
    2. Get turned away when customer perceives cost is too high
    3. Get a random call to return immediately, preform the same series of demonstrations preformed in step 1 because a worker got hurt

    These stories randomly get picked up in the news and they are treated like accidents, however I would challenge that idea as these injuries are preventable, making the continued use of chop saws (quick saws, demolition saws, etc) for cutting pipe bordering on negligence.

    In the picture below, our agent is demonstrating the DW Guillotine on a range of pipe sizes following an injury sustained by a worker in Crystal Brook, Australia.

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    • #3
      Nothing routine when cutting pipe using a demolition saw, even when cutting small diameter pipes. This worker was lucky, suffering only minor injury; however the margin between bad and tragic is very, very small.