Whether it’s your first time stepping into a fab shop or you’re a veteran of sheet metal, job site safety should always be a concern.Metal is sharp, hot, and heavy. That means your employees need to be properly trained on how to handle projects, report injuries, and so on. To begin training your sheet metal fabricators, you must develop a job site safety program using Kaempf & Harris’ best practices:
Think it all the way through. Now is not the time to skip out on details for the sake of being concise or saving money. Safety is a serious issue in fab shops, and you should think about every possible scenario when designing a job site safety program for your employees.
“A good comprehensive strategy considers the hazards, evaluates all possible control methods, integrates various approaches, and reexamines them frequently to ensure a safe work operation,” according to the Canadian Centre For Occupational Health And Safety (CCOHS).
“It does these things by requiring that conscious decision-making, evaluation, and reevaluation be done at various stages throughout the program.”
You should consider the protection of workers; compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and internal company standards; and technical feasibility. Think about the following:
- Engineering controls
- Material substitution
- Process change
- Revised work practices
- Equipment change
- Administrative controls
- Use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
Conduct a workplace safety survey. The first step in the development of a sheet metal safety program is to identify the particular hazards at the worksite. Some may be more obvious, but an onsite inspection should be performed to get an inside look at daily work practices, job procedures, equipment, fab shop layout, and individual factors.
“Recognizing potential hazards should include reviewing the manufacturing or other processes, maintaining an inventory of physical and chemical agents encountered routinely or periodically, examining all the different job activities of a work area, and studying the existing control measures,” according to CCOHS.
Design and update your program around the general principles of control. In the sheet metal industry, when hazards are identified, the general principles of control are put into two basic categories: Pre-contact and point-of-contact.
Pre-contact is “the most important method because it prevents the hazard from reaching the worker.” Pre-contact control methods include the following:
- Substituting materials or processes that are less hazardous
- Isolating hazardous processes
- Retrofitting existing equipment
- Acquiring safer equipment
- Providing worker protection with local exhaust ventilation, machine guarding, better housekeeping, and safe work practices
While many hazards can be anticipated and avoided through effective engineering at the pre-contact stage, others may not be recognized before an accident occurs. A thorough effort to identify hazards is essential so that accidents can be reduced or eliminated at the source.
Where pre-contact controls are not practical, feasible, or totally effective, point-of-contact controls must be used.
Point-of-contact is “secondary because it cannot eliminate the hazard. It only manages the hazard at the point of contact with the worker. This form of control is primarily accomplished through [PPE].”
It’s used when pre-contact controls aren’t totally effective.
Follow through with training. Once you design a sheet metal safety program after surveying and research, it’s time to implement training. Publicize commitment to the program and ensure a clear, concise company policy has been formulated. Train every employee on the safety standards, and audit the program regularly.
Now that you have step-by-step directions on how to create a safety program for your fab shop, download our Sheet Metal Safety Checklist by clicking on the button below. We put the U.S. Occupational Safety And Health Administration’s sheet metal and welding guidelines in an easy-to-digest checklist packet -- just for you: