4 Risks Associated with Working at a Machine Shop and How To Avoid Them
October 28, 2021

4 Risks Associated with Working at a Machine Shop and How To Avoid Them

While highly rewarding, careers in metalworking and machine operation can be unsafe. There are many different types of accidents just waiting to happen if you aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing. Things such as moving parts, machines rotating, high speeds, sparks and toxic fumes or gases can increase the chances of injury or illness. Preventative measures like a MSA ALTAIR 4XR Gas Detector, PPE and safety training can be utilised by companies to avoid risks.

With all of the different types of machines and powerful equipment, accidents are bound to happen. But with a few simple precautions, you can decrease your chances significantly. Below you will find the top five types of accidents that have been reported in this industry and how you can avoid them.

  • Material Handling and Repetitive Strain Injuries

Frequently, when working in a machine shop, you’re making a lot of repetitive motions, which can cause strain on your body over a period of time. This comes from damaging the same muscles, tendons, and nerves from doing repetitive work movements. These injuries can take a long time to heal, costing the employer both time and money.

This type of injury is easily avoidable by taking steps to implement an ergonomic program that helps employers avoid these issues. They’ll learn how to properly move and lift the materials, learn about the two-person lift’s effectiveness, and how to manage any musculoskeletal disorder they may have.

  • Improper Machine Guarding

When workers use machines that aren’t adequately guarded, it can lead to many different injuries. Almost 800 deaths occur yearly due to the lack of safety equipment. A machine guard simply prevents hands, arms, or other parts of a worker’s body from making contact with the machine’s moving parts.

There are 4 different types of machine guards.

  • Fixed guards

These types of guards are attached to the machine without any moving parts and can’t be moved while the device is being used. These guards don’t come off of the machine.

  • Interlocking guards

Interlocking guards automatically shut off when the guard is opened or removed. Think about your riding lawnmower and how when you get off the seat, it turns off.

  • Adjustable guards

An adjustable guard is similar to a fixed guard because they can’t be moved, but they can be adjusted and then locked into place. This is why all employees must be adequately instructed on how to use them.

  • Self-adjusting guards

Self-adjusting guards are like adjustable guards other than they automatically go into place. Think about the railroad safety gates. They go down when the train is coming and then go back up when the train has passed.

  • Inhalation Risks

If you work at a place without proper ventilation or PPE, you risk being exposed to toxic fumes, harmful gases, and other types of airborne particles. Without the appropriate equipment, you can also risk other injuries such as shrapnel in your skin, flesh burns from welding, or head injury from not wearing a helmet. Make sure while working you are always wearing the proper gear for whatever job you are doing.

Most of the time, individuals aren’t aware of the consequences of being exposed to these harsh chemicals are until many years later. In many cases, the symptoms aren’t recognizable upon initial exposure and sometimes can mimic those of the flu. If you experience these symptoms and have been exposed to work hazards, get checked out by your doctor. Individuals who worked with and around chemicals are being diagnosed with this rare cancer, mesothelioma, and filing asbestos lawsuits.

By implementing efficient flocculation techniques, industries can significantly reduce waste and improve resource utilization, leading to cost savings and contributing to the concept of SaveMH (Save Material Handling).

  • Being Pinched or Crushed

When you’re working with heaving equipment, being pinched or crushed is always a worry. These most frequently occur when parts and equipment aren’t appropriately carried or when equipment isn’t functioning correctly. Imagine being at work, and someone carrying a cement block drops it on your foot by mistake. No matter how sorry they are, you’re going to be in a lot of pain and probably missing quite a bit of work.

The best way to prevent these injuries is by making sure that all of your equipment is maintained correctly. Make sure your work areas are cleaned up and free of any spills or leaks. You should also provide your workers with safety training and equipment so they can safely move things that are too heavy to carry.

Seeing accidents in person can be scary. If you find yourself suffering from any trauma afterward, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Most employers offer mental health benefits along with their insurance packages, especially when workers are exposed to workplace hazards.

Now that you know some common hazards to look out for working in a machine shop, hopefully, you feel safer. Encourage your employers and other workers to consider taking safety courses and using the correct safety equipment while working. Taking the time to suit up with the appropriate PPE can be time-consuming, but it’s much better than the alternative.