Spend just a day in a metal fabrication shop and you’ll see how many high-risk activities workers are exposed to. Working with metal requires skills to operate many different types of machinery along with a deep understanding of how different metals react and respond with subjected to things like heat and pressure. No matter how new someone is to the metal fabrication industry or how experienced they are, understanding the unique industrial safety risks along with how they can be combated is vital.
WorkSafeBC has an extensive list of resources that people working in the metal fabrication industry can refer to when they need to, including training and education programs. Read on for a quick refresher on understanding safety in a metal fabrication.
Hazards Associated with Metal Fabrication
The most common hazards associated with metal fabrication include cuts, burns, and eye injuries. Workers are at risk of getting cut by sharp edges of metal sheets or getting burned by hot metal pieces or chemicals used in various processes. Eye injuries can occur due to exposure to welding fumes, sparks, and debris. Welding fumes and chemicals can cause respiratory problems and long-term health issues.
In addition to these hazards, workers are also at risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) due to repetitive motions and awkward postures. MSDs can cause pain and discomfort in the neck, back, shoulders, and arms.
How to Work Safely in the Metal Fabrication Field
It doesn’t matter if a workshop deals with industrial, residential, commercial, or artistic metal fabrication, the safety of its workers is paramount to running a successful business. The top safety measures to look into include:
- Conduct Safety Assessments
You cannot know if there are any gaps in protocols unless they are assessed periodically. Conducting a safety assessment every few months is imperative to understanding how they can be improved. This also helps identify any areas where workers may need additional training to improve on-site safety. Once an assessment has been completed and if gaps are identified, they can be rectified by implementing appropriate safety measures. Doing so not only reduces the chances of injury but can also help drive productivity and efficiency too. Using an outside safety consultant for your audits can provide unbiased reviews.
- Ensure Proper Training
Any employee who begins work in a metal fabrication workshop must receive the training necessary to carry out their role safely and effectively. They also need to work toward achieving job-appropriate certifications to carry out their jobs.
Every tool also has its own quirks. Even the same kind of equipment from different manufacturers may vary in how it needs to be used. Going through manufacturer instructions carefully before operating any new piece of equipment along with associated safe protocols is something that should never be overlooked, no matter how experienced workers are.
- PPE and Personal Safety
The risk of burns and other injuries like cuts from sharp pieces of metals is high. Those working in metal fabrication should wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gloves, safety glasses, and welding helmets. Long sleeve shirts, long pants, and safety shoes are also vital to ensure employee safety in the workplace.
The chances of developing musculoskeletal disorders are also high. Workers should take the appropriate number of breaks between tasks and be taught how to lift and move heavy objects to prevent injuries.
- Machine Guarding
Machine guarding is another essential safety measure in metal fabrication. Some of the most dangerous machinery used in the industry include mechanical power presses and abrasive wheel machinery, along with hand and portable power tools and equipment. The installation of barriers or shields around such machines is crucial to protect workers from hazardous moving parts, such as gears, belts, and blades. These guards prevent accidental contact with the machinery and reduce the risk of injuries, such as amputations and lacerations. These machine guards should be inspected regularly.
- Electrical Hazards
Electrical hazards are another popular cause for concern in the metal fabrication industry. Poor insulation, extension cord safety, improper grounding, and faulty wiring are common causes behind electricity-related injuries. Fortunately, these incidents are easy to prevent by scheduling regular inspections, maintenance of electrical equipment along with appropriate employee training.
At A Touch of Brass, we take our employees safety seriously. With over 40 years of experience in the metal fabrication industry, we know how to prevent hazards by implementing top-of-the-line safety measures. This means that when you hire our experts to fabricate your products, you know they will be made with care.
Contact us today and let us know what you need!