Noise management: Electric metal cutting hand shears

This publication is for: 
Employee / workerEmployer

This educational article has been developed to assist in the management of noise from electric metal cutting hand shears. 

Electric metal cutting hand shears are the modern replacement for tin snips or aviation snips and allow rapid cutting of sheet metal. Noise levels produced by the tool exceed 85 dB(A) and hearing protection is recommended.


  • Replace the blades when blunt or have the blades sharpened regularly. With some tools the blades are only replaceable.
  • When the tool is serviced have the bearings or bushings checked for wear. Replace when worn. Worn bearings contribute to tool noise and if not replaced can cause more expensive damage.
  • Have the brushes checked. Excessive sparking from the motor normally indicates worn brushes. If the brushes are not replaced expensive damage to the commutator can result.

Noise control

  • Secure material being cut (eg clamp to bench or saw stool). It may be possible to also place small sandbags on large sheets of metal to dampen vibration.
  • Cover workbench surface with rubber conveyor belting. This will dampen vibrations.
  • Where possible, use outside or in a specially set aside machine room, but avoid noise annoyance to adjacent areas. 

Operator control

  • Cut close to area being clamped.
  • Don't force the tool through the work. Let it cut at its own speed.
  • Keep operator's head at maximum distance from the tool to reduce noise received at the ear. 


  • Use hand shears for small jobs.
  • Use a guillotine where possible. For small projects, cut the metal as close as possible to the required size using the guillotine then trim off with hand shears.
  • When considering replacement, test run several different types and compare the noise levels whilst cutting material.
  • Issue a noise specification for the new tool and request noise hazard data under section 23 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984

Adapted from the Noise Control Manual for Schools with the permission of the Education Department of Western Australia. 

Fact sheet
Last updated 21 May 2014

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