The UK Health and Safety Executive operate in many areas by legislation - The H&S. at Work Act 1974, The Management of H&S. at Work 1992, The Provision of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, COSHH (chemical hazards), among others. They have 'HSE Woodworking Sheet No 36' which sets out the legal position for safe use of these saws, and best practice for their employment. It's impossible to speculate on individual cases, (although in another post the subject of confiscation of mitre-saws was mentioned), but the saw at the yard was removed, so it's possible that an offence, in either it's guarding provision, condition/maintenance, operator training, control over access, lack of a company H&S Plan, lack of eye-protection or masks, lack of extraction when cutting hazardous materials like MDF, an unsuitable operation, the wrong type of blade, no electric brake, perhaps the Inspector wanted a 110 volt supply, - or even found a slippery floor due to sawdust not being cleaned up.
HSE include Radial-Arm saws in this catagory. They investigated 276 serious accidents with these machines in the ten years up to 2002, many being caused by poor or NO operator training, no guarding, operator stupidity, & unsuitable work practices, and ranged from serious finger injuries to complete amputation at the wrist. 'Left-handers' are particularly at risk. Since these machines form a vital part of the production process in such diverse industries as furniture making, carpentry shops, plastic-window fabrication, shop fitting, alumin(i)um extrusion trimming etc., I doubt if a 'blanket ban' exists. I feel the real problem is how close your left hand has to be to the blade while cross cutting, the HSE recomendation of one foot (300mm) is just not practical. To be honest, a handsaw is little extra effort, and you have got to be pretty determined to slice your hand off with one! An enthusiastic Inspector worth his corn would have little problem 'confiscating' some Far East origin 'cheap-and-not-so-cheerful' saws now on the market; quite frankly they can be lethal, with flimsy guards and poor construction. HSE costs about ¬£260 million a year to run, that's about ¬£0.20 pence per UK employee per week. It has under 4000 employees of which nearly 50% are inspectors.
I guess sometimes HSE oversteps the mark, but the UK has one of the best records in employee health and safety in the world, and is getting that cheap, in my opinion.
Wood work but can't!