Working with sheet metal is inherently dangerous, primarily because of the risks associated with handling large pieces of thin metal with razor-sharp edges. However, cuts are not the only injuries sustained in working with sheet metal. Dangerous machinery and flying projectiles are among many other risk factors.
You can minimize the dangers involved in sheet metal fabrication if you follow the following safety tips.
Handling sheets of metal
One of the most important rules of handling sheet metal is: never try to catch falling metal. Even if the product is finished, it may still have sharp edges. If it starts to fall, get out of the way. The same rule applies when lowering a sheet of metal to the floor. Don't let the edge of the metal slide between your fingers and thumb to control its descent. An uneven edge or a burr can cut through both gloves and fingers
When sliding sheets of metal on or off a table, pull them rather than push them. When you pull, you can lift the end of the sheet to avoid striking minor obstructions, such as dried sealant. Pushing a sheet of metal and hitting an obstruction can cause fingers to be seriously injured, even while wearing gloves.Lifting a sheet of metal while you are sliding it also lessens friction between the metal and the table, resulting in less strain on your back muscles.
Fabricating sheet metal
When you run a sheet of metal through powered fabrication machinery, you must be concerned with two possible outcomes. One of your body parts can become entangled and be pulled into a machine, or you (or a coworker) can be struck by the piece of metal as it exits the machine.
Feeding sheets of metal into fabrication machinery
As you feed metal into a machine such as a power roller or lock former, you should first be certain that you have no loose clothing, hair, or jewelry that can be caught on a notch or cut in the metal and pull you in with the metal. Wedding rings can be the cause of lost or crushed fingers as they are snagged by an irregularity in a piece of metal.
Safety glasses should always be worn when feeding metal, especially if the metal has been previously burned by a plasma cutter and the resulting slag (deposits left by burning metal) hasn't been removed with a grinder. Pieces of slag become projectiles as they are crushed by rollers and thrown at high speed in many directions.
Before you attempt to feed metal into a machine, check the area from which the material will exit for possible obstructions or inattentive coworkers. If you are following and holding the metal in place to ensure that it remains straight against the guides inside the machine, you must be certain that nothing is behind you that would trap you against the metal as it exits. Always have an escape plan if things go awry when feeding sheet metal into machinery.
For more information, contact a professional like those at Waters Brothers Contractors, Inc.