Laser Cutting Safety Tips – Workforce Resources

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As more metal pressing companies in the UK than ever before branch out into additional service provision, their respective workforces are facing new hazards and health and safety risks every day. One example would be that of laser cutting services, which are becoming more widely available and popular across the country than ever before. The benefits of laser cutting over and above traditional cutting techniques are both extensive and well documented. But at the same time, this will always be exactly the kind of machinery that needs to be approached with care and respect at all times.

Contrary to popular belief, the number of accidents and incidents caused by this kind of machinery each year is actually relatively low. The vast majority of workplace health and safety incidents are the result of considerably more minor slips, trips and falls, as opposed to run-ins with heavy machinery. Nevertheless, it is of crucial importance to occasionally revisit the most critical (and in most cases basic) health and safety tips of all, in order to ensure that the fundamentals are not overlooked.

Here’s a quick rundown of just a few of the most important safety tips of all for those operating laser cutting machinery:

1 – Appropriate Training

First of all, under no circumstances should any machinery of this type be approached and used by anyone who has not been provided with the necessary training. Even in instances where much of the process is computer controlled and largely automated, it is still of crucial importance to fully understand how it should be operated safely. When and where accidents in the workplace involving heavy machinery occur, they are usually the result of one or more individuals making assumptions, rather than following the rules.

2 – Machine Capacity and Purpose

Each and every laser cutting machines on the face of the earth is designed and manufactured with the specific purpose in mind and has a limited capacity to one extent or another. Unsurprisingly therefore, to use such a machine for a purpose for which it was not created or to exceed its capacity is to roll the dice with fate. Even pushing a machine so much as 10% beyond its maximum capabilities or attempting to use it for something it surely must be able to do can be a recipe for disaster.

3 – Lens Condition and Cleanliness

If it is recommended in the operational guidelines for the machinery that its lens or lenses be checked and cleaned on a regular basis, this is the kind of guideline that really should not be ignored. When a lens is damaged, excessively dirty or in any way affected by debris, it is fundamentally unable to do its job properly.  And when it is unable to do its job properly, there’s every possibility it could pose a real and direct danger to those using it. Suffice to say, it is a risk not worth taking.

4 – Obstructions and Hazards

The same also goes for any kinds of obstructions or hazards in the immediate vicinity of the machinery itself. As already mentioned, the vast majority of workplace accidents and injuries each year are the result of the kinds of slips, trips and falls of that are usually caused by hazards that should never have been there in the first place. The long and short of it is that anything that has even the slightest potential to get in the way of you doing your job properly when operating heavy machinery represents a risk that can and should be removed from the equation.

5 – Constant Supervision

Unless it is specifically specified as safe to do so, it should be assumed that you should never under any circumstances leave an active laser cutting machine unsupervised. This applies to the overwhelming majority of instances as while computers and robotics can do a fantastic job overseeing what goes on, they are far from infallible.

6 – Emergency Procedures

Another critically important health and safety rule working with such machinery is to ensure that you and anyone else in the vicinity is fully aware of all emergency procedures, which may be required in the instance of an accident or incident. It is often the first few seconds and minutes following an accident that will determine the outcome and consequences – knowing how to react really is of the utmost importance.

7 – Personal Protective Equipment

Last but not least, if and when it is recommended that personal protective equipment be used while operating or working in the vicinity of a laser cutting machine, this is a guideline that should be considered mandatory. It’s natural to assume that you don’t really need PPE as you have never needed it to date, but it takes only one slight ‘hiccup’ at an inopportune moment to bring along the kinds of consequences you’ll wish you’d never opened the door to.

June 2017
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