I rip to the right side of the blade, and usually crosscut from the left. I tend to push the miter gauge with my right hand and hold the lumber with my left....it depends somewhat on where I stand, but the left side puts both hands (and arms) clearly out of line of the blade.
I always rip to the right, leaving the scrap to the left, except when I need a narrow piece....
Here's why I agree:
Most left tilt saws (almost all saws these days) run the fence supports to the right, because ripping beveled cuts would trap the work under the blade if the fence were on the left..... not safe.
I also believe this is because a majority of folks are right handed, and push the workpiece with their right hand allowing the cutoff to fall on the left side of the blade.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-handedness is most common. Right-handed people are more dexterous with their right hands when performing tasks. A variety of studies suggest that 70–90% of the world population is right-handed.
Cross cutting is a different procedure, but the reason you
push with the right and hold with the left, is the same. You want full control of the workpiece and let the cutoff fall to the right side, especially on a bevel
where the work IS trapped under the blade.You can flip the work over and let the cut off fall under the spinning blade, but that's risky also. A sliding miter saw would be my preference for those cuts where the work is secured against the fence and the blade moves across the work.
Some folks are ambidexterous and can use either hand comfortably, but it's important to not trap the work under the blade on either a right or left tilt saw... just my opinion.
I also find it safer and easier to rip narrow pieces on the right side of the blade/left side of the fence.... because if there is a kickback of the strip, you can/should stand safely just out of the way to the left.
There are human factors and physical/mechanical reasons for the safe operation of the machine.