Nobody likes an injury. And this week we here at Online Metals wanted to provide some advice on the safe handling of our metal once it arrives at your door.
You think safety is a pain? Try having an accident
The very first thing to keep in mind is that metal can be sharp. We don’t file it down once we cut it, and so the saws and shears can leave burrs or a lip on the metal. These can be very sharp. As such, we suggest using gloves when removing metal from the packages initially. At the very least, don’t use your bare hands to check for edges or root around inside the metal. This seems like it should be so obvious that it need not be said. But, we recently saw a safety report of an employee at one of our sister companies who badly cut his hand by running it along a freshly cut sheet. He was checking for an edge. There was indeed an edge, and he had to get stitches. Don’t do that.
Also, while Online Metals packages materials to protect them during shipping, we can’t always prepare for everything. Sometimes rough handling during shipping can leave small dings on the surface that can catch on your clothes or skin if you aren’t careful. Again, this is why we generally suggest gloves while initially handling the material.
You can do a lot with metal, which is part of why it’s a truly amazing material. However, there are things you need to keep in mind when machining or otherwise working with it. Firstly, and we think most importantly, is eye protection. All Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is important, but a flying sliver of metal from a drill or saw can blind you if it hits your eye.
Whether you are drilling, boring, sawing, grinding, or shearing metal, there is always the risk that pieces will come flying. Therefore, always wear eye protection. Even if shards aren’t an issue, metal dust can still be kicked up, and you don’t want that in your eyes.
Gloves are another crucial piece of equipment, regardless of your task. The last thing you need is to cut, scratch, or smash your hands with metal and tools.
At our warehouses, we require eye protection, gloves, cut sleeves, ear plugs, helmets, steel-toe boots, and high visibility vests or jackets.
While if you are in your home machine shop, a helmet and high-vis vest are a little excessive, the rest is a good idea. Hearing protection and toe protection are often overlooked. But that shouldn’t be the case. Take care of yourself!
Also, when you grind metals, some sort of respirator or dust mask is also a good idea. Metals are harmful when inhaled as a dust, and so do your best to avoid that. This is especially a good idea if your work space is in an enclosed space that lacks proper ventilation.
Remember friends, safe handling of metal is a conscious decision. Also make sure to to always wear the appropriate safety gear for what you’re doing.
Safety may get old, but so do those who practice it!