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CUTTING BRICKS

Things you need to know

The simple act of cutting bricks on a construction site is a necessary activity, but one which can carry health and safety risks for both the person doing the cutting and people in the immediate vicinity or underneath, if working on scaffolding.

The ‘toe hold’ method of securing the brick under the foot is a recognised method of stabilising the part of the brick you want or the part you plan to discard. Notwithstanding that under the law and the control of the HSE, dry cutting is illegal, the obvious hazard to the operator even if the cut goes smoothly and the chance of a ‘kick’ from a hard fragment within the brick itself creates a real danger the cut-off saw will jump or the brick will shatter or throw itself from under the hold and fly away. Any of these scenarios could have serious health and safety consequences.

A Large Brick Jig is best used when cutting on the ground, probably on the ‘slab’ of the house or in the compound. Being able to cut the bricks quickly and accurately means that the bricklayers can plan ahead and get cuts done well in advance of when they are required.

In addition to the risks of cutting bricks, there is also the health and safety risk from dust from the cutting process. Wearing PPE is required at all times when cutting, and with the advances in water control on cut-off saws, controlling dust will prevent shrouding the bricklayers with every cut. Controlling dust to protect himself and those around him is required by law and is controlled by the HSE.

On the scaffold, bricks still need to be cut. The gable ends and working around the eves will still often require individual cuts. A frequent and dangerous practice, again notwithstanding the act of cutting the brick, is the location where the brick is cut. A sacrificial board is usually intended to stop the operator from slicing the scaffold board itself where he is standing. When the board fails in its intended role, or is not even used, the outcome could be fatal. Weakened scaffold boards can give way at any time. A brick that jumps and flies from a scaffold is a danger to the workers below as well as to the cut-off saw operator.

Using a Small Brick Jig will eliminate all of these risks and make cutting at height a safe and efficient process.