We're proud to support the future of Health and Safety with this fantastic innovation from young engineering students. Now awarded the SECBE 2020 People's Choice Award.

The future of health and safety

Morgan Lovell engaged with students from Queen Elizabeth Boys School, Barnet, to consider improvements to the most popular and frequently used type of saw. The band saw has a manually adjustable guard and limited dust extraction due to the position of the saw’s dust extract below the blade cutting work area and below the vented area of the case, which allows for some heat removal for the electric motor.

The work that the students carried out helped to solve safety issues with the saw, giving operatives security in the knowledge that they are protected from the hazards of the vertical movement of the blade. This allows them to focus on important and time-sensitive tasks without considering the guard position and provides enhanced dust extraction.

The guard provides passive protection to the operative using the saw, without any active thought having to be put into the use of the guard and reduced hazards from breathing in wood dust.

Researching the problem

During the site visits, the students found that operatives regularly do not use the blade guard, because they find the manual guard movement tedious to reset each time; and to save time and make it easier. Operatives using band saws often place the blade guard in its highest setting and leave it there so that they can cut any thickness of material. The students wanted to prevent that from happening, without requiring additional effort from the operator.

The solution

The students came up with three designs, all with the same basic idea. The material will push against the bottom of the blade guard causing there to be a force that will be exerted upwards and adjust the blade guard to the correct and ideal height for cutting. Two of the ideas use simple rails and sliders to autonomously adjust the height, whereas a third idea uses a rack and pinion.

They have developed a system that works with no user input needed. This allows the operatives to work in the same way but now they are much safer, as the blade guard works for them and with them.

This can be shared with the industry in many ways, with all types of saws. The students' design can be modified to fit a variety of different band saws and power saws, to improve safety without a massive cost because their solution can be retrofitted.


    • A fully automatically adjustable band saw blade guard meaning no human interaction is required beyond pushing the material through the blade.
    • The retrofit guard covers the blade from multiple angles, instead of one main direction guarding on the existing guard.
    • Great improvements to the existing dust extraction system allowing for significant dust exposure and providing a more precise cut due to enhanced visibility of the cutting surface.