Safety Tips for Machine Shops
Machine shops aren’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when we think about safety. Almost every kind of hazard can be found in a machine shop. There’s no telling what could befall any machinist, technician or apprentice as they go through their day-to-day responsibilities. Luckily, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed several guidelines and regulations to help prevent on-the-job injuries.
This article covers some basic guidelines to remember (and follow) so that you can get the job done safely.
We recommend keeping a self-inspection checklist and to run frequent inspections to make sure that the hazards in your machine shop are minimized.
WEAR PERSONAL PROTECTIVE GEAR
Wear PPE (personal protective equipment) that is appropriate for your job.
PPE used in a machine shop may include:
Safety glasses are a staple in machine shops and should be worn always, whether or not you’re operating a machine. Otherwise, chips and other debris from your coworker’s machines could fly into your eyes. Clear protective glasses like this will work in most operations, but in some cases – like if you are welding or operating a plasma machine – shade glasses are needed.
Although not always required, having a good pair of ear protectors can help protect your hearing from the loud noises of a shop. If you are looking for a good model, this is what we recommend.
To preserve the health of the employees, machine shop owners should always evaluate the feasibility of installing engineering controls like fume hoods or general ventilation systems
When not possible, employers must provide employees with respirators that comply with OSHA regulations.
Loose clothing or torn clothing and unrestrained hair are a big no-no as they cause discomfort and may pose the threat of entanglement.
Never wear sandals, cloth sneakers or perforated shoes in areas where chemicals are used or machine work is performed. It’s advisable to don smocks for minor chemical spills and splashes, or rubber or plastic aprons for corrosive or irritating liquids.
Gloves are one of the most debated topics when it comes to machine shop safety.
There’s no doubt that gloves should never be worn anywhere close to a running machine, but some machinists still choose to wear nitrile gloves during material handling operations to protect their skin from chemicals or sharp edges. (Tip: deburr your parts.)
We recommend that you avoid wearing gloves anywhere inside a machine shop.
Welding operations definitely require a different consideration. To minimize the risk of injury, welders should always wear specific protective gear, such as helmets, gloves, and aprons.
If you are looking for more information about protective welding equipment, you can find it here.
Always remember to inspect the machines thoroughly for missing or loose bolts, nuts, screws and other components.
Before operating a machine, make sure that all appropriate guards are secure.
Never rush machine speeds or feeds. This can result in your injury or damage of tools or machinery.
While operating the machine, listen to it carefully. If something does not sound right, immediately turn it off and thoroughly inspect it for problems.
Always clean up a machine after you’re done using it. Besides being uncomfortable to use, a dirty machine can result in injury.
We recommend using a good vacuum to remove chips safely from a machine after use. Never use compressed air to blow machines clean. This can cause flying particle hazards and may force dirt into machine bearings.
Make sure all walkways and personnel traffic areas are clear of all kinds of scrap. All work areas must be free of clutter, debris, and trip hazards.
Keep all surfaces in the work area clean. Ensure that all platforms and floors are free of grease, oil and spill hazards.
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