Sheet metal guillotines are an important piece of equipment in sheet metal fabrication; they can be used to create clean, accurate cuts in sheet metal and are relatively easy to maintain. Unfortunately, they can also be dangerous machines if not used and treated correctly. Proper safety precautions must be adhered to when operating this piece of machinery otherwise severe physical harm can occur to the user and others around them. That’s why ACRA Machinery has decided to tackle the topic head on and give you a rundown of a sheet metal guillotines safety procedures and what you should and shouldn’t do.


Common associated injuries

The most common injury associated with metal guillotinesis crushed or amputated fingers – believe it or not. It’s easy to assume that such injuries are usually caused by the blade of the guillotine, however, this is not the case. These accidents actually occur when fingers get caught between the clamps used to hold down the pieces of sheet metal or are accidentally jammed under the sheet metal workpiece. 

Other injuries such as strains can occur when handling large, awkward sheet metal workpieces. Of course, it is not unheard of for blade-related injuries to occur when using guillotines so always be sure to operate the machine with caution. Remember, these are blades that can cut through pieces of metal – so they can do some serious damage.

Safety procedures – machinery

Heavy sheet metal machinery such as metal guillotines must be set up and maintained according to strict safety standards. All sheet metal guillotines have guards in place to ensure that all openings are blocked. There are also guards around the blades and clamps to ensure no one can touch them. 

Routine safety checks should include ensuring all guards are strong, rigid and securely attached so that they can only be removed from the guillotine with specialist tools – as opposed to a regular person being able to remove them with their own strength alone. This gives the machine an extra layer of security.

The back of the guillotine should be guarded in order to prevent a worker from reaching the blade from the rear and all dangerous moving parts such as the flywheel, gears and/or shafts should also be properly guarded. The fabrication plant should be fitted with appropriate lighting – at least 400 lux – to avoid direct glare and reflections and emergency stop controls must always be within reach of machine operators.

In addition, the foot pedal is designed so that it is clearly visible and should be placed in an area where it cannot be accidently activated. Similarly, the power indicator clearly shows whether or not the machine is powered on or not. These features are often overlooked but are designed specifically to increase safety around the usage of the machine.

Safety procedures – workers

Sheet metal fabrication workers must be properly trained in safety procedures and regularly reviewed to ensure their skills and knowledge are up to date. It is considered unsafe for two workers to simultaneously operate a guillotine unless both operators are provided with interlocked actuating devices. Guards must only ever be adjusted by an authorised person and all workers must know the correct safety steps for stopping and starting the machine, especially in an emergency. 

All trainee guillotine operators must be closely supervised by an authorised person until their training is complete and all workers should be provided with proper safety equipment including gloves and protective clothing. Regular checks should be undertaken by trained supervisors for reasons such as maintenance and safety. 

After the end of each use, a supervisor must ensure that all the guards are adequately attached and firmly in place to avoid any unnecessary accidents from occurring. In addition, programs should be implemented to ensure that the inspection and maintenance of the machines are being recorded properly for future reference.

The maintenance itself should be carried out by a professional who has thoroughly studied the manual of the machine and carries the necessary qualifications to be able to carry out the maintenance. The maintenance will address old and worn out parts – replacing them if necessary – as well as ensuring all safety protocols are in place and are being adhered too correctly.

Are you in need of a sheet metal guillotine?

ACRA Machinery are supplier of sheet metal guillotine products – in addition to a variety of other sheet metal machinery – both new and used. Our highly knowledgeable staff will be able to help you pick the machine that’s right for your needs. Here at ACRA, we also specialise in sheet metal machinery maintenance and repair, so you can rest assured that we know our way around all metal fabrication machines.

If you’re interested in purchasing one of our products – or just need some advice on some machinery – then please get in contact with one of our friendly staff members by calling us on 03 9794 6675. Alternatively, you can also fill out the enquiry form on our website.