Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential in every metal workshop. Under the Work Health and Safety Regulations, many businesses are actually required to provide some sort of PPE as a supplement to risk management strategy. In today’s post, we are going through a PPE checklist for your metal workshop. Use this list to ensure you’ve got the right PPE to keep your workers safe, whether they’re using a brake press or a hydraulic guillotine.

#1: Protective headwear

The right headwear protects against impact, is shock absorbing and is able to withstand penetration. In a metal workshop, there are two main types of protective headwear:

  • Hard hats
  • Welding hoods, which also protect against heat

Hard hats and welding hoods may also be worn with skullcaps or woollen liners to make them more comfortable to wear.

#2: Protective eyewear and face protection

Grinding, cutting and shaping metal are activities that can expose employees to molten metal, chemical fumes, and airborne particles. The last place you want these things to end up is an employee’s face or eyes, so providing protective equipment is essential to safeguarding these areas.

There are many different kinds of protective eyewear, including:

  • Goggles with side shields
  • Goggles that can fit over prescription glasses

To protect the face (including the nose and mouth), you may provide:

  • A full-face shield that protects against sparks/debris
  • A specific welding hood

In addition to these things, there should always be a clearly marked eyewash area close to the workstation.

#3: Protective equipment for ears

Let’s be honest: metal workshops can be noisy places. Constant exposure to a loud brake press or other sheet metal machinery can make your employees vulnerable to hearing loss or impairment, which is of course irreversible. Therefore, it’s important to try and prevent the risk of hearing damage as diligently as possible.

Auditory PPE needs to be considered with all factors in mind, such as:

  • The current hearing condition of the employee
  • How loud the specific machine is
  • What type of noise the employee is exposed to (constant or infrequent?)

After these factors have been taken into account, you can go on to decide the type of PPE that is most appropriate for the person and situation. Protective equipment for ears may include:

  • Disposable, sponge-like earplugs
  • Large, reusable earmuffs

#4: Protective equipment for the respiratory system

Working with metal (particularly welding) can expose workers to fumes containing tiny metal particles. Without PPE, these fumes can be inhaled and deposited in the lungs. Over time, this can lead to diseases like chronic bronchitis and pulmonary fibrosis. Those who work in metal workshops could potentially even be at risk of exposure to other toxic vapours, specks of dust and smoke.

There are a few ways to protect the respiratory system from metal fumes. Some examples may include:

  • Wearing approved respirators that help to supply clean air to the user
  • Wearing a dust mask to protect against splashes (note that dust masks do not prevent the inhalation of particles)

#5: Protective footwear

The right footwear is the key to preventing slippages and protecting feet from falling objects and molten metal. But what exactly constitutes ‘the right footwear’? Here are some pointers you should be looking for:

  • Rubber insulated soles, to protect against electric shock
  • Impact-resistant toe area (such as a steel-capped toe)
  • High-topped, to protect against stray sparks or welding slag

#6: Protective equipment for hands

Some metal workshops hazards that commonly affect hands include burns, cuts, electric shock, and even amputation. Like many forms of PPE, the right kind will depend on the hazard you are protecting against. For example, leather gloves are more fire-resistant than latex ones.

Apart from gloves, other hand-protecting PPE includes:

  • Hand pads
  • Wristlets
  • Long sleeves

#7: Protective clothing

The clothing worn by metalworkers should be considered with utmost importance. After all, the skin is the largest organ in the body!

The torso, arms and legs are vulnerable to many hazards in the metal workshop. If proper care is not taken to cover up these areas suitably, employees might experience:

  • Burns
  • Cuts
  • Radiation

A t-shirt and jeans do not count as PPE; nor does loose-fitting clothing. Correct PPE clothing must be well fitting, resistant to heat or cuts, and should cover all exposed skin. Aprons, suits and skin-hugging tops and pants are just some examples of what might be worn in a metal workshop.

Review your current metal machinery

You should also take the time to review the machinery in your workshop and ensure it’s still in good form; it could be time to replace your old machinery.

Acra Machinery supplies quality new and used metal machinery to the metalworking industry. Whether you’re in search of a brake press or a laser cutter, you’ll be able to find it in our extensive range. Contact us today on 03 9794 6675 to enquire!