Keep safe while working in a metal shop

Keep safe while working in a metal shop Share this article

Working at an industrial metal or machine shop can be a rewarding profession, but the environment also carries a number of inherent dangers. It's critical that you're aware of the common injuries associated with this industrial workplace. Here's some advice on the most common hazards and how to avoid them. 

Wear the right gear 
When you're working with metal, there's no room for taking risks. Safety gear is important for protecting yourself from injury in a variety of ways. 

Metal or machine shop workers should wear ear protection. Frequent and intense noises can permanently damage various parts of the ear. The Mechanist.org advised that metal shop workers use over-ear earmuffs, ear plugs or both. 

Safety goggles are critical to maintaining a healthy working environment. There's always the risk of shards and chips flying around when working with metal, but Mechanist.org explained that hand tools are often liable to shatter as well. Whether you need specialty prescription goggles or standard safety eye protection, it's important to wear them. Eye injuries are very common in metal work when goggles aren't worn. 

The Mechanist.org also recommended people protect their feet. 

"The floor in a machine shop is often covered with razor-sharp metal chips, and heavy stock may be dropped on the feet. Therefore, safety shoes or a solid leather shoe must be worn at all times," the advice site wrote. 

Work boots and shoes that have nonslip soles are also important. When you're walking through a machine shop filled with bits of metal and heavy machinery, the last thing you want is to slip and fall. Slips are a major cause of injury across industries, but they're particularly dangerous for people working in metal shops. A quick slip could lead to severe cuts and other injuries. Consider slip-resistant shoes made specifically for an industrial environment with built-in protection. 

At most times, gloves should not be worn. Although this may seem counterintuitive for many experienced industrial workers, gloves can present more dangers by being caught. Employees may want to use them during the cleanup process following machine work. 

Be safe while welding 
Welding and cutting are crucial aspects of metal working, but they can also present a number of hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration outlined several of the biggest welding dangers. 

Gas cylinders should be stored, handled and transported securely. People should never use improper tools, such as a pry bar, to loosen caps – the results of a puncture could be disastrous. Gas should be kept separate from oxygen tanks when stored and away from sparks and electricity when in use. Employees should never light a torch with a match or leave a touch lit and unattended. 

Obviously, it's important to stay away from flames that are more than 4,000 degrees, but make sure your fellow employees are wearing all safety gear and taking every precaution as well. 

Respect the machines 
In metalworking, the machines present the most danger. It's important to approach these machines with respect, whether you've been working there for years or you're a new employee. Remember not to alter machines in any way, as you may change their safeguards. Don't use machines without the proper training or allow others to. 

Keep your workspace clean 
Cleanliness is critical when operating a machine. Keep your space clean and clear of metal scraps. These can present slip hazards and machine danger when not dealt with correctly. Remember never to use your bare hands or pressurized air to clean up metal chips, as you're more likely to get cut or make a bigger mess. 


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