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5 Safety Protocols for Sheet Metal Fabrication Shop

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A sheet metal fabrication company that produces, transport, or handles sheet metal, should take additional precautions to ensure the safety of its employees. Some companies completely overlook sheet metal as a potential workplace hazard, leaving employees susceptible to work-related accidents.

Risk assessments

Risk assessments can help you to formulate effective health and safety policies while developing emergency plans and upholding a secure work environment. According to Health and Safety Executive, risk assessments can be completed through the following steps:

  • Determine the hazards
  • Identify who is most likely to get harmed and by what means
  • Weigh up the risks and establish safety measures
  • Document your findings
  • Examine your assessment and revise if required
  • Make sure that you consult with your workers regarding their insights and work experiences – this will better equip you to find the perfect solution to ensure a more secure working environment.

Maintain the Equipment

Perform regular equipment maintenance checks to ensure that hand tools and automated machines are functioning properly and updated as necessary. Failing to regularly check tool and machine conditions can lead to an increased likelihood of error and a higher probability of injury.

Why?

  • Workers need to maintain the equipment to stay safe on the job. If dust or debris makes its way into a device, an employee can get injured quickly. That’s why it’s important to clean every item after each use.
  • Staff should make sure that every safety measure is in working order before they use any piece of machinery. If a shop doesn’t do regular maintenance checks on a piece of equipment, disaster could strike.
  • Staff should perform inspections on all angle rolls, tube bending machines, plate bending machines, and plasma cutters. Not only will these check-ins minimize the likelihood of workplace injuries, but consistent maintenance will also prolong the life of a device.

Safety Gear

Another safety protocol every fabrication shop should know is that workers need to wear the right gear. Common protective clothing for fabrication industries includes:

  • Safety glasses
  • Flame-resistant gloves
  • Ear plugs/ear muffs
  • Welding helmet
  • Oil-resistant shoes
  • Specialized garments

Employees should wear close-fitting clothing while at the shop. Do not work in loose clothing. All staff members should wear appropriate clothing in the fab shop. Loose clothing can get wrapped up in heavy machinery and cause injury in a number of ways, so anything that can get caught, including hair or jewelry, should be tied back and removed, respectively.
Workers should also wear durable boots in case they step on a nail or other sharp item.

Wear safety gloves and goggles at all times. Shearing, bending, and manipulating metal puts a sheet metal worker’s hands and eyes at great risk for injury due to splinters or other unexpected projectiles. All employees should wear safety gloves and goggles at all times without exception. Each worker should have several pairs of leather, canvas, or rubber gloves, and eye protection should be shatterproof and meet requirements.

Protect your ears and head. Keeping in line with OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) guidelines, which include wearing proper headgear and ear protection, is another critical practice that must be enforced on the fab shop floor or at an offsite location. No exceptions.

Training

Metalworking is a highly skilled profession. Managers should teach their employees how to work with each device at the shop. Not only will a training program keep individuals safe, but productivity will remain at a steady pace.
Training your employees in best practice policies and the proper use of your fabrication systems will educate them regarding the right handling and storage procedures for the machinery. It will also inform them of the injuries that are common to their working environment, making them more aware of the potential risks and hazards and helping them to perform their tasks more responsibly.

Rules

  • Communicate safety rules clearly and hold people accountable;
  • Safety policies must be communicated clearly and effectively to all staff members;
  • Guidelines and restrictions should be explained as part of the onboarding process for new staff, and ongoing training for existing staff should be provided monthly;
  • Displaying all the necessary signs and information within your workplace can remind your employees of the proper procedures. It can also enforce extra caution in certain fabrication processes to prevent any accidental injuries.
  • Signage should be posted throughout the fab shop, and employees violating safety protocols must be held accountable to a degree set by your general manager or shop supervisor;
  • Clear communication of safety regulations and consistent disciplinary action are perhaps the two most important safety practices for any sheet metal fabricator.

Remains clean

Make certain the workspace, whether at the shop or on a work site, remains clean, organized, and free of clutter. Disorganized floors and messy areas can lead to falls and other injuries, so keep everything organized to ensure the highest safety precautions for you and your team members.

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