Maintaining a safe sheet metal shop work environment is critical to worker productivity and the profitability of any metal fabrication organization.
Unforuntately, minor and major injuries can interrupt project timelines, reduce staff, lower employee morale, and increase insurance costs and liability risks.
At Kaempf & Harris, we do our best to avoid any mishaps by adhering to the strictest safety standards in our industry, and we are proud of our safety track record. For more detail on how we do stay safe in busy fab shops, here are a handful of tips from the experts at Kaempf & Harris:
- Wear safety gloves and goggles at all times. Shearing, bending, and manipulating metal puts a sheet metal worker’s hands and eyes at great risk for injury due to splinters or other unexpected projectiles. All employees should wear safety gloves and googles at all times without exception. Each worker should have several pairs of leather, canvas, or rubber gloves, and eye protection should be shatterproof and meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requirements.
- Do not work in loose clothing. All staff members should wear appropriate clothing in the fab shop. Loose clothing can get wrapped up in heavy machinery and cause injury in a number of ways, so anything that can get caught, including hair or jewelry, should be tied back and removed, respectively.
- Maintain equipment. Perform regular equipment maintenance checks to ensure that hand tools and automated machines are functioning properly and updated as necessary. Failing to regularly check tool and machine conditions can lead to an increased likelihood of error and a higher probability of injury.
- Protect your ears and head. Keeping in line with OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) guidelines, which include wearing proper headgear and ear protection, is another critical practice that must be enforced on the fab shop floor or at any offsite location. No exceptions.
- Keep your sheet metal fabrication shop organized. Make certain the work space, whether at the shop or on a work site, remains clean, organized, and free of clutter. Disorganized floors and messy areas can lead to falls and other injuries, so keep everything organized to ensure the highest safety precautions for you and your team members.
- Communicate safety rules clearly and hold people accountable. Safety policies must be communicated clearly and effectively to all staff members. Guidelines and restrictions should be explained as part of the onboarding process for new staff, and ongoing training for existing staff should be provided monthly. Also, signage should be posted throughout the fab shop, and employees violating safety protocols must be held accountable to a degree set by your general manager or shop supervisor. Clear communication of safety regulations and consistent disciplinary action are perhaps the two most important safety practices for any sheet metal fabricator.
Without a doubt, safety and productivity go hand-in-hand, and we hope these six best practices for maintaining a healthy work environment will help you and your co-workers stay safe and productive.
Remember: Because sheet metal fabrication is a riskier industry, there's nothing wrong with suggesting improvements in your shop’s policies and protocols. Get more information on sheet metal safety with these checklists: