Workplaces of all different kinds pose safety risks, but when it comes to sheet metal and metalworking, these safety risks are large, and very serious. That’s why safety should be the number one consideration in sheet metal workshops. Many of these safety hazards are unique, or particular to the sheet metal industry, so that’s why we have put together this list of important safety considerations for sheet metal workshops. From safe handling and PPE to machinery repair and maintenance, keep reading for more tips on workshop safety. It is critical to continually update your knowledge and understanding of safety in the workshop in order to keep every valuable member of your team safe and healthy at all times.
Personal protective equipment is a critical component of safety in any workshop, indeed, in any workplace. There are many different types of PPE for the sheet metal workshop, and the kinds that need to be supplied can differ depending on the particular application or process being carried out. However, gloves, safety glasses or another form of eye protection, full length pants and long-sleeved shirts, steel-toed boots, a respirator mask, and head protection in the form of a hard hat are a minimum safety requirement.
As mentioned, there are other types of PPE that may be required for different processes – for example, a full face-shield for welding, or grinding. If you are an employer, then you are responsible for the provision of all PPE that is required for your employees to carry out their job safely. You are also required to ensure that all employees are compliant with wearing the PPE appropriately and at all necessary times.
Maintain Order and Cleanliness
Another critical safety measure for any sheet metal workshop is keeping a clean and orderly work environment. A cluttered or disorganised work environment is an unsafe work environment for everyone involved. Spills, or discarded material on the floor such as offcuts can cause falls which can result in injury. It is essential that employers, as well as employees are responsible for maintaining a clean and tidy workplace, to help to ensure the safety of everyone in the workshop.
Safe Handling of Sheet Metal
Safe handling of sheet metal does include using and wearing personal protective equipment like gloves when handling sheet metal. It also refers to utilising safe lifting and moving techniques in order to prevent different types of neck and back injuries. Working with sheet metal often requires utilising heavy parts, which means that all workers need to be informed of and trained in proper lifting and moving techniques.
Manual handling tasks include pushing, pulling, lifting, or moving. It is the responsibility of employers to not only identify potential manual handling hazards, but also take action to eliminate these risks. According to Safe Work Australia, a way to do this involves ‘good work design’. This means finding a way to accomplish the particular task without the need for hazardous manual handling – for example, through the use of automation.
When manual tasks are carried out in a safer way, this can help to prevent the incidence of health conditions or injuries known as musculoskeletal disorders, or MSD. Safe Work Australia notes that these injuries can occur in one of two ways:
- ‘Suddenly, through strenuous activity or unexpected movements’ or
- ‘Slowly, through gradual wear and tear from repetitive or continuous movements’.
Musculoskeletal disorders include, but are not limited to: muscle sprains and strains, back injuries, nerve injuries, and chronic pain.
Your Workshop is Compliant with OHS Regulations
It is important to remember that this is not an exhaustive list, and that your workplace has obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2017. It is essential that as an employer, you are aware of your responsibilities and obligations under the OHS Act 2017, and that you communicate these to your staff, which includes providing proper training for all employees.
Proper Machinery Repair and Maintenance
One of the most important things that you can do to ensure safety in a sheet metal workshop is to keep on top of regular machinery maintenance and repair. It is critical for safety that all machinery is maintained regularly by trained professionals, including servicing, inspections, and prompt repair or replacement, when appropriate. When you maintain your machinery, you help to ensure that the equipment that your employees use not only operates efficiently and correctly, but safely, too.
Do You Need Machinery Maintenance or Repair?
Look no further than ACRA Machinery. We are proud to bring you and your workshop the best in machinery repair, alongside machinery maintenance and sales too. Backed by 42 years of continuous experience, we are experts in the sheet metal industry and in providing exceptional customer service to all our customers.