Due to a variety of hazards found in the workplace environment, metal fabrication can be a potentially dangerous industry if employees do not closely adhere to safety regulations. Fortunately, in recent years, the rate of non-fatal injuries in the industry has significantly dropped, indicating that safer equipment and effective safety regulations are successfully helping prevent common injuries. However, a careless worker can still cause great harm to himself or to others in a trade that is unforgiving of negligence.
The Dangers of Metal Fabrication
One reason why metal fabrication can be hazardous is the potential harm stemming from inattentiveness or misunderstanding of safety regulations. Noise or other distractions may result in a loss of concentration, so maintaining caution and remaining mindful of one’s surroundings is important.
Common Metal Fabrication Injuries
A number of injuries can occur in a fabrication shop due to carelessness or inattention. The following is a list of some common areas of concern:
Injuries from Handling Materials
Material handling is a relatively frequent cause of injury in the workplace. Most handling injuries tend to be musculoskeletal-related, and can range from minor sprains to more serious ailments like invertebral disc injury. These impairments typically result from disobeying proper lifting protocol, but can sometimes be caused by sustained exposure to vibrations, prolonged awkward posture, or continual repetitive motions.
Injuries from Hand Tool Usage
A hand tool can be another source of injury in metal fabrication processes. The majority of these injuries are also musculoskeletal related. The most common afflictions caused by hand tool usage are carpal tunnel syndrome, wrist tendonitis, and chronic disorders of the hand, wrist and forearm.
Injuries from Poor Guarding
Access is prohibited to many areas and equipment in a metal fabrication shop. In these locations, guardrails or other barriers can be used to prevent accidental entry. The types of safety barriers found in machine shops usually fall into one of the following categories:
Poorly maintained or non-existent guards are among the most common causes of barrier-related injuries. For example, guarding mechanisms are important in preventing a worker's fingers from entering the metal trapping space of a cutting guillotine. If these safety guards are improperly installed, there is an increased chance of hand injury or finger loss.
How to Reduce the Likelihood of Injury
The best way to prevent workplace accidents is to adhere to strict safety protocols. It is helpful for plant supervisors to hold routine safety seminars stressing the importance of following safety guidelines. In addition, certain procedures will help reduce the risk of injury in each area with a high number of potential hazards. The general principles of workplace safety include:
Some straightforward ways to reduce injuries in metal fabrication include proper use of forklifts or cranes to unload heavy raw materials, appropriate training and use of effective lifting methods, and employment of trolleys to transport materials between stages of the fabrication process. Shop managers should ensure that the ventilation system works properly and, if necessary, provide personal protection gear such as respirators, eye and ear guards, and gloves. In addition, any potentially hazardous piece of machinery should be routinely inspected to make certain the necessary safety measures are in place and working properly. Hand tools should be chosen for the suitability of their design, and the correct tool should be verified before being put into use.
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