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How to safely operate a pipe cutter or pipesaw

Pipes often need to be cut to size by plumbers and others who work with pipework. Pipes can be made from several different materials such as copper, steel and brass. However, they would be very difficult to cut if we didn’t have access to a pipe cutter.

Pipe cutters vary in size and shape. Some are very small and can be used easily by hand. These are ideal for plumbers who may be working in confined spaces. However, some are much larger and have handles designed to make it easier to cut larger pipes. The one thing all forms of pipe cutters have in common is the need to be able to use them safely. Any pipe cutter can cause injury to the person using it if they do not pay proper attention to health and safety matters.

Why could a pipe cutter be dangerous to use?

Anyone who wants to be a plumber or works in an industry where the use of a pipe cutter is necessary will require training to ensure the risk of injury is kept as small as possible. The Health and Safety Executive points out there are four types of people who may require specific forms of training, including new recruits and those who are doing jobs they may not have done before. Sometimes, ongoing training may be needed too. For example, if you have been doing your job for a while and new pipe cutter designs are issued, you will need to be fully aware of how to use them.

Proper training will identify the risks associated with a pipe cutter. It must have sharp wheels to be able to cut through pipes, and these can also easily cut through fingers if you fail to handle the pipe cutter properly, or your grip slips while you are using it. It is also worth noting the cut edge of the pipe will likely be sharp once you have cut through it, so proper handling at every stage is vital to prevent injury. Carefully de-burring the pipe’s sharp edges will make it safe to handle. While statistics confirm only 3% of workers in the construction industry suffer an injury each year, the potential for serious injuries is there. Serious cuts to the hands or fingers sustained in an accident with a pipe cutter could easily result in someone needing time off work until those injuries heal.

The importance of checking a pipe cutter

A few seconds taken to complete a check of the pipe cutter before you use it could save you from suffering a nasty injury. The wheels need to be sharp to cut through the pipe you wish to cut; if they are blunt or dull it will not just be harder to complete the cut, it’s more likely the pipe cutter could cause an injury. Whenever you change or replace a wheel, you should handle it carefully. Gloves that are capable of withstanding cuts are ideal for use in this instance.

It is also a good idea to make sure you select the right pipe cutter for the task. Some are designed to cut plastic pipes rather than those made from stronger materials including steel and copper. Check the cutting wheel is secure and make sure you have enough space to use it.

4.7m working days were lost in the UK in 2014-15 because of injuries that occurred in the workplace. Many of these injuries could and should be avoided, and taking proper care with the tools you work with is one way you can do this.

Know what to do if you do suffer a cut from a pipe cutter

First aid can ensure an injury such as a deep cut can be treated quickly before seeking medical advice. Every workplace should have a first aid kit, so get a sterile alcohol-free wipe to clean the wound before you do anything else. If the cut is deep, you should apply pressure to it and keep the affected hand raised as this will help slow down bleeding. Try not to panic, even if you cannot feel part of your hand, which may indicate nerve damage. Staying calm will ensure you treat the injury properly to start with.

Apply pressure and a clean sterile dressing to the wound. If the bleeding doesn’t stop and it soaks through, don’t take the dressing away. Instead, put another one over the top and go to casualty. It is likely you will need stitches if the injury doesn’t stop bleeding. You should also seek help if you can’t move or feel part of your hand, or you suspect you may have a broken bone. This will ensure you receive the correct treatment and have the best chance of making a full recovery, even if the treatment needed is more than just a few stitches.

Find out whether your pipe cutter injury might lead to compensation

Injuries caused by a pipe cutter could range from nasty cuts that require stitches to those that are even more serious, causing nerve damage to occur. This could potentially mean you may not get back full feeling in the affected hand, finger or thumb. As you can imagine, this could affect you in lots of ways, particularly when returning to work.

If you are employed by someone else and you think they may have been negligent in some way, perhaps by supplying a sub-standard pipe cutter that had not been checked or repaired, you could have a case to make for receiving compensation. Call us at Accident Advice Helpline now on 0800 689 5659.

We have over 16 years’ experience in assessing personal injury claims, and we may be able to recommend one of our professional injury compensation lawyers to take your case. Ask for no-obligation advice when you call, and you could find out sooner rather than later whether you have a chance to be awarded compensation.