What Are Some Risks Relating To Machine Shops?

Machine shops have become an inevitable part of the workflow, especially in manufacturing companies. Despite their usefulness and importance, they pose certain risks to the workers.
 
What is a machine shop?

A machine shop is a place, building, room, or company where machines work on raw materials. A machine shop includes different tools and components like milling machines, grinders, drills, welders, etc. The shop also contains raw materials and inventories.
 
What are the risks posed by a machine shop?
A machine shop usually includes a complex mix of machinery and is often operated manually. Employers must ensure that their workers are familiar with the risks associated with numerous equipment in the machine shop.

Some of the most common risks are:

  • Risk of amputation: A machine that deals with wood, metal, or plastic will be equally capable of cutting the human flesh. Machines with saws, benders, shapers, power presses, and other such sharp parts can easily amputate the various parts of a body. 
  • Crushes: Crushing occurs when workers drop heavy machinery or equipment accidentally. Workers are highly prone to dropping heavy equipment or parts, which can lead to serious injuries. Employers must train workers to lift and handle equipment and other bulky items. 
  • Eyesight issues: Eyesight is the most-affected part while working in a machine shop. Eyesight issues can occur when workers are exposed to sharp objects like screws, metal scraps, etc., and also due to solvents, cleaners, and other such chemicals which require careful handling with the use of safety glasses. Workers must also protect their vision from radiation.
  • Cuts and scratches: Workers in all fields and industries are prone to cuts and scratches. However, the probability is higher in the case of workers in a machine shop. Cuts and scratches occur when workers handle equipment without prior knowledge or when they fail to use protective gear. At times, workers deal with metal parts and other sharp objects which can lead to cuts and scratches. Employers must provide the workers with protective components like gloves, face masks, etc.
  • Toxic chemicals and gases: Workers working in a machine shop are often exposed to toxic chemicals and gases, which they inhale most often. Toxins include chemical mists, solvents, fumes, dust, and tiny particles. Employers must provide protective equipment to the workers and protect them from exposure to toxic wastes and gases. Employers must also conduct regular inspections of equipment and indoor air quality.
  • Repetitive motion: Often, performing the same actions or tasks can result in repetitive motion injuries. This includes extensive lifting, pushing, poor posture, etc. Repetitive motions not only pose a threat to the workers but also impact their performance in the workplace. In certain cases, repetitive motion injuries can also occur due to forceful activities, extensive pressure on muscles, or maintaining a posture for a long time. Employers can curb injuries due to repetitive motion by encouraging workers to take breaks.
  • Electrocutions: Heavy pieces of machinery consume a high load of electricity. Workers working with machinery are indirectly put into contact with electricity. Such machines can get hazardous if workers are careless around exposed wires. Employers must protect the workers from shocks or other forms of electrocution. They can do so by maintaining equipment in a proper manner and training the workers not to work in a risky manner around heavy equipment and wires. 

Machine shops can pose certain risks which can be tackled with the help of risk analysis, caution, and the right protective measure. Workers must always remember that the machine shops are packed with heavy equipment and any impact relating to these can result in injuries and fatalities. Employers must ensure that all the machines are well-maintained and the workers are aptly trained.
 
Safety at the machine shop is not just a preventive measure, but an investment of a lifetime. Explore World of HSE to learn more about health and safety.

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