Walking into a metal fabrication shop with no protection can be one of the most dangerous situations to put yourself in. With the handling, cutting, and shaping of metal comes inherent risks to your wellbeing, and not preparing for this can lead to severe health risks. From cuts to the hand to metal particulates entering your lungs, always come prepared with the necessary safety equipment when working with metal.
Risks To the Hands
When the metal is being shaped, it is still an unfinished piece. This means that there are still imperfections and ridges that can snag and cut your hands when working with them. This danger is especially apparent with burrs in metal. Burrs come with their own safety risks, but chief among them is lacerations to the hands.
Always handle metal pieces, finished or not, with durable and well-fitting gloves. They should be able to stand up to sharp metal edges to prevent cutting and flexible enough to be able to manipulate the fingers precisely.
Cutting metal also means that there is an excess of small metal particles that are flung into the air. These particles can enter your body through the eyes and mouth. At the very least, these particles will cause irritation to the eyes, and at worst, they will cause respiratory illness and disease if they make their way to the lungs.
Protect the Eyes
Protective lenses will not only protect your eyes from small, airborne particulates but will also ensure safety from sharp metal objects that fly around when cutting metal.
Face masks will help to filter out any harmful particles in the air and will protect your respiratory system; whether that be from the metal dust or other gases and materials you will be using while in the foundry.
Metal is a highly conductive material for thermal energy. If a sheet of metal is kept near an open flame, then the heat will transfer and disperse throughout the piece without any obvious signs of increased temperature. This can lead to unwittingly pressing your skin up against metal and receiving severe burns to the skin.
The first step to handling metal that may or may not run the risk of heating up is to grasp it with heat-resistant gloves. Only when you are sure that the piece is not heated to the point of causing injury, then your gloves can be safely removed and switched for other appropriate safety equipment.
Know What Your Job Calls For
There are different types of safety equipment when working with metal, and each job may require a different approach. Know the hazards of your particular job and keep yourself safe.