How to Create A Safer Metalworking Environment

Metalworking is filled with potential hazards. Many tasks involved in working with metals expose machine operators and workers to a multitude of chemicals, noise and flying debris, to name a few. With a few small adjustments to operations, most metalworking hazards can be successfully resolved and promote a better working environment for operators.

In this article, we’re looking at potential hazards in metalworking and viable solutions to eliminate those hazards.


Hazard: Flying Materials

Solution: Machine Guarding

Proper machine guarding is essential to protect operators and other employees from hazards such as flying debris, sparks, and moving parts. Different machines have different guard options. Operators should always have guards in place on the machines they utilize.


Hazard: Noise

Solution: Ear Protection

Machining operations can produce high levels of noise, which can lead to hearing loss if not properly controlled. Wearing proper ear protection can protect operators from long term ear damage. Ear protection should be rated properly for the noise levels that workers are exposed to regularly.


Hazard: Heat

Solution: Protective Clothing, Hand Protection, Proper Ventilation

Some machining operations produce heat, which can cause burns or fires if not properly controlled. Operators should be wearing proper protective clothing and ventilation in the work area.


Hazard: Chemicals

Solution: Proper Protective Clothing and Hand and Foot Protection

Some machining operations use chemicals such as coolants and lubricants, which can be hazardous if not handled properly. Wearing proper outerwear protection and following proper guidelines for material handling can prevent issues.


Hazard: Electrical

Solution: Proper Grounding in Place

Machining equipment can pose electrical hazards if not properly maintained or used. Properly grounding equipment and proper electrical equipment maintenance can really help promote safety.


Hazard: Repetitive Motion

Solution: Workstation Design and Job Rotation

Repetitive motions and awkward postures can lead to musculoskeletal disorders if not addressed through proper workstation design and job rotation.


Hazard: Fire

Solution: Fireproof Materials, Outerwear and Protections in Place in Work Areas

Combustible dusts, flammable liquids, and other combustibles can lead to fire if not properly controlled.


Hazard: Confined Space

Solution: Proper Ventilation Equipment or Protective Masking

Some machinery may require entry into confined spaces, which can pose additional hazards, such as lack of oxygen or toxic gases.


Hazard: Moving parts

Solution: Machine guarding and protective clothing, eye protection and hand and foot protection

Unprotected moving parts such as gears, belts, and pulleys can cause serious injuries if operators or maintenance personnel meet them.


Hazard: Slips, Trips, and Falls:

Solution: Proper Organization, Proper Maintenance, Good Signage

Poor housekeeping and cluttered walkways can lead to slips, trips, and falls, which can result in serious injuries. Installing good signage and conducting regular maintenance and regular organization can eliminate these potential hazards. 


Safety in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility. In hazardous workplaces where the smallest errors can be dangerous, having a focus on potential solutions for hazards can be the most helpful way to promote a safe working environment for everyone.

More helpful guidelines can be found here >> OSHA


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