Industry partnership makes processing meat safer

Industry partnership makes processing meat safer


Theme: People & Community

Priority: Ensure health, safety and wellbeing of people in the industry

Organisation: SCOTT Automation and Robotics

Location: National

“The challenge was to develop a unique system for the meat industry that could kick in fast enough and stop a band saw blade before causing major injury to the operator."


  • Meat and Livestock Australia partnered with SCOTT Automation and Roboticsto develop BladeStop™, a mechanism that makes meat processing band saws safer.
  • BladeStop™ senses when the blade contacts the operator and stops the blade within nine milliseconds.
  • There has been significant uptake of BladeStop™ with over 400 units sold nationally and internationally.

Processing beef and sheep carcases can be dangerous work. Band saws are an essential tool in meat processing, but accidents can result in cuts, muscle and nerve damage, or even amputations.

The beef industry partnered with SCOTT Automation and Robotics (SCOTT) to develop a mechanism that could reduce the number and severity of such injuries.

BladeStop™ is a braking mechanism that can protect butchers from severe injuries caused by band saws.

“The challenge was to develop a unique system for the meat industry that could kick in fast enough and stop a band saw blade before causing major injury to the operator,” said Andrew Moussa from SCOTT.

When BladeStop™ senses the blade contacting the operator’s hand, it stops the blade within nine milliseconds. This can be the difference between a small skin cut and an amputated finger.

BladeStop™ incorporates a new band saw with an integrated electronic board and a blade stopping mechanism and a body sensing strap, positioned on the operator’s waist.

Many different prototypes were tested, and multiple plant trials conducted to refine the design.

The final system is only available as part of a new band saw purchase to avoid reliability issues with retrofitting the injury minimisation device.

Since launching the technology, more than 400 units have been sold nationally and internationally. Most major Australian processors now have multiple BladeStop™ band saws and are progressively replacing all existing standard band saws.

The Site Safety Manager of a Woolworths’ Meat Co’s processing plant, Jeff Sabel, said BladeStop™ had reduced risk and boosted moral at the site.

“The site has recorded five instances where the BladeStop has significantly reduced the severity of the outcome. Instead of having potential amputations we’ve had some really successful outcomes, we’ve had some minor lacerations, band aid injuries,” Jeff said.

Bladestop™ has also led to sustainable business outcomes.

“The band saw technology is reducing the risk of injuries for employees in the meat processing sector, while decreasing lost production time and compensation claims from injuries,” said Andrew Moussa.

The success of BladeStop™ has opened even more health and safety opportunities. SCOTT has also developed GloveCheck, an add-on sensing system that detects operator gloves moving at high speed in a zone directly upstream from the band saw blade, and triggers the BladeStop™ mechanism to stop the blade before contact is made with the operator.

A subsidiary of Meat & Livestock Australia – the producer-owned company providing marketing, research and development services to cattle, sheep and goat producer members and the broader industry – worked with SCOTT for nine years to bring BladeStop™ to market.

These technology developments are examples of the industry taking action to improve the health and safety of people who work in it, which is a priority area for action for the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework.

Categories: People & the community