5 Safety Issues for the Metal Fabrication Industry

5 Safety Issues for the Metal Fabrication Industry

Did you know that metal workers are almost three times more likely to suffer a disabling injury than other workers? As the owner of a metal fabrication shop, safety is always at the top of your mind. But there are some safety concerns that occur more frequently than others. In this article, we looked at the most common OSHA citations from 2019 to learn what they are, and how to help prevent them.

1. General Machine Requirements and Safety

General machine safety was the top citation for 2019, costing the industry almost $2.8 million. Machines that are old, poorly maintained, or lacking proper guards can cause extreme injury – or even death. As the employer, it is your responsibility to ensure that machines are working correctly and to replace or repair defective machines immediately. Adding an equipment maintenance program which includes repairing and replacing critical or important equipment parts or tools before they show signs of deterioration may help minimize workplace injuries.

2. Controlling Hazardous Energy

Failure to control hazardous energy – via OSHA’s lockout/tagout (LOTO) method – was the second most common safety violation. Following protocols to turn off harmful energy sources can reduce serious injuries, whether it’s the electrocution of an employee working near a live wire, the sudden release of scalding steam vapor, or a conveyor belt that starts moving while a worker is repairing it.

Metal workers are almost three times more likely to suffer a disabling injury than other workers.

3. Respiratory Protection

Metal workers are frequently exposed to harmful airborne chemicals or particles including silica from sandblasting, welding fumes, dust, or toxic gases. Since each of these harmful substances is different, employers need to make sure they have the correct respirator, with the correct setting, to match the job at hand. You should also ensure that all employees understand how to use the respirator and other safety equipment before they start the job. OSHA requires documentation of these steps.

4. Hazard Communication

To help avoid mishaps with hazardous chemicals, OSHA adopted the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals in 2012. Adhering to these rules can help ensure the safety of everyone on your staff – and minimize citations. If you use even one hazardous chemical in your shop, you will need to show that you have an Employee Right-to-Know program in place, to make sure that all workers have the required information.

Metal workers are frequently exposed to harmful airborne chemicals or particles including silica from sandblasting, welding fumes, dust, or toxic gases.

5. Powered Industrial Trucks

Most of us call them forklifts, but to OSHA they are “powered industrial trucks,” and they are the cause of the fifth most common safety issue in metal fabrication shops. To minimize forklift accidents like having a load fall on an employee or getting hit by the truck, you should ensure that each worker is properly trained and that your trucks are well maintained and serviced.

As a metal fabricator, there are many things you should keep in mind to keep your workers safe. Building a culture of safety – with strong training and trust between managers and workers – is one of the best ways to make your entire business safer. For more information on how to help protect your business and keep your workers safe, speak to your independent insurance agent

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