Safety Considerations in Machinery & Equipment

Machinery & Equipment is one of the most dynamic industries due to its strong ties and interconnections with major economic sectors such as raw materials, finished goods and services.

A 2019 study by NSC estimated the total cost of workplace injuries at a staggering $171 billion in the US alone, and injuries to hands and fingers account for approximately 25% of work injuries. Many of these injuries are preventable and require safety consciousness and compliance with regulations and safety protocols including the use of appropriate PPE.



Operating machinery and equipment is linked to various mechanical hazards. Moving machine parts may potentially cause severe workplace injuries such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations and burns. Other common injuries in the industry include cuts and severing injuries, stabbing or puncture caused by equipment or metal sheet sharp edges and sharp-pointed parts as well as friction or abrasion due to rough surface parts and musculoskeletal diseases due to vibration. Machine parts, materials and emissions such as steam and water can be hot or cold enough to inflict burns or scalds and working with energized components may cause electrical shock and burns. Metal fabrication including welding, cutting, and brazing are exceptionally dangerous as these work processes create sparks, fumes, radiation, and other hazards. Following safety protocols and using adequate PPE is essential for protecting metal fabrication workers and machine operators from these preventable injuries.

Ansell Solutions

One of the major hazards to metal fabrication safety is a high risk of cuts and lacerations while handling metal sheets, sharp-edged objects, and operating equipment with sharp-pointed parts. The workers are often exposed to glass, dangerous machinery, and other sharp objects and edges where cut, severing injuries or puncture are likely to occur. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 30% of all workplace injuries in the US only are from cuts and lacerations, with 12% of those occurring on the hand. To ensure metal fabrication shop safety and to prevent manual handling accidents in the workplace it is important to select the right PPE with an appropriate cut level protection adequate to the performed tasks.
When operating machines and equipment with rough surface and moving parts workers expose their hands and arms to the risk of abrasion and scrapes. Ansell offers a wide range of abrasion-resistant gloves that are extremely durable for extended wear in various abrasive applications that involve repetitive movements and handling metal sheets and panels. Ansell’s FORTIX Technology uses a thin, resilient and breathable nitrile foam coating that dramatically extends working life of protective gloves and sleeves while improving their comfort.
Workers operating heavy machinery with moving parts or pneumatic equipment put their hands and arms to the risks of crush and pinch. Many tasks in machinery and equipment industry and metal fabrication include the use of large tools like presses, shears and saws, handling metal sheets and heavy materials, further exposing hands to hazards which can lead to devastating injuries if not properly protected. Ansell's Ringers Impact Protection System protecting workers against impact risks while providing superior comfort and dexterity.
Working on or near energized parts is associated with risks of an electric shock or serious burns. Electric shock is one of the major risks encountered by welders and other workers using electric-powered tools and equipment where even low voltage or low current can cause serious harm or death. OSHA considers electrical hazards as the 2nd biggest safety concern in metal fabrication. Using the right PPE can help preventing potential accidents. Ansell offers best-in-class ActivArmr electrical protection gloves that deliver ultimate comfort, performance and safety in challenging environments.
Workers in metal fabrication industry are exposed to both heat or cold contact and convective heat, and, therefore need appropriate PPE for handling hot or cold objects, working in extreme temperatures, and to protect hands while welding, casting and melting, molding and forging. Moreover, machine parts, materials and emissions such as steam and water can be hot or cold enough to inflict burns or scalds. To mitigate these risks Ansell provides a range of PPE designed to resist extreme temperatures while delivering comfort and performance.
As a result of COVID-19, workplaces must consider the need to protect against the spread of illness and viral infection. Ansell offers a wide range of solutions that comply with the World Health Organization’s guidance regarding infection prevention and control. In order to make an informed decision, product purchasers and users should stay abreast of the latest and most complete information regarding appropriate PPE to protect against COVID-19 and other viruses in their specific environments and applications.
Vibration is a potential hazard for workers operating hand-held tools and powered equipment like impact drills, air powered wrenches, grinders and saws of all types. Prolonged exposure to vibration can cause changes in tendons, muscles, sensory nerves, bones and joints that may eventually lead to the hand and arm muscles damage known as hand–arm vibration syndrome. In addition to muscle fatigue due to vibration, musculoskeletal injuries are often caused by repetitive movements, overexertion of the muscle, and improper positioning while working. Along with the general precautions like mechanical isolation of vibrating source, limiting the duration of exposure, and equipment maintenance to avoid excessive vibration it is important to consider appropriate PPE to reduce the risks of damage to muscles, bones & joints ensuring workers’ safety and comfort.
Machinery and metal fabrication hazards are not only limited to mechanical risks. Workers are exposed to a variety of harsh chemicals including paints, solvents, hexavalent chromium, and cleaning fluids. Without proper PPE, workers may experience chemical burns or any other type of skin irritation. Repetitive and prolonged exposure to these chemicals can prove toxic to the worker and severely affect their skin or respiratory system. Thick, nonporous PPE is needed that will prevent liquids from leaking inside and touching the skin, with the durability to withstand scrubbing and sharp corners.



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