Machinery and Equipment Safety for Metalworkers: Operator Practices

Operator PracticesThese common scenarios show how machinery, operator practice and general facility conditions can lead to injury in today’s metalworking facilities:

• A minor lubricant leak from a screw machine develops into a major slip and fall hazard for employees and visitors passing through that area of the facility

• During a routine die setup, a technician is injured when helping an operator pull a die onto a bolster plate while the press is in inch mode and not blocked

• An operator wearing loose-fitting sleeves is seriously injured when reaching across the rotating bit of a drill press to hold the aluminum stock

• An operator loses a finger when a coiled stock straightener is kept in forward mode while he removes an expanded steel guard over the gear housing to adjust the tension

These and other hazards may exist in your facility. By being diligent in preventing employee and customer injuries, as well as property damage, you will help minimize accidents and help to reduce your insurance costs. Help avoid hazards by following these tips:

Operator Practices

• Periodically evaluate employee adherence to machine guarding to ensure existing guarding is being used. If it is not, determine the reason and implement a plan of action.

• Establish machine-specific Lockout/Tagout (LO/TO) procedures for all machinery or equipment that cannot be unplugged from a wall socket or flexible cord plug

• Train all employees regarding their roles within the LO/TO system for your facility

• Do not allow employees to wear loose-fitting or frayed clothing that could become entangled in and around moving and rotating parts

• Use a vacuum to clear machines and employee clothing of metal dust and chips

• Do not allow employees to eat or drink on the shop floor to prevent ingesting or inhaling of hazardous materials from employees’ hands or the environment

• Test operator candidates’ skills before allowing them to operate equipment or machinery

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