Machine Shop Safety – Impact Hazards

Impact hazards in a machine shop can result in serious injuries if proper precautions are not taken. Three significant impact hazards often encountered in machine shops involve lathe chuck keys, dropping of heavy objects, and objects ejected from equipment. Here’s how these hazards are addressed:

Lathe Chuck Keys: Lathe chuck keys are essential tools used to tighten or loosen the jaws of a lathe chuck. However, if not properly handled, they can become projectiles, leading to impact injuries. To mitigate the risk associated with lathe chuck keys follow these guidelines:
Never leave the chuck key in the chuck — even momentarily.
Return the chuck key to it’s designated holder when finished.
Never borrow chuck keys from other lathes. Many lathes have a proximity sensor that acts as a safety device. This safety device will be compromised if chuck keys are shared between lathes. If your lathe does not have a chuck key see your instructor or supervisor.

In addition to impact hazards associated with lathe chuck keys and flying debris, machine shops also face risks related to falling components such as vices and other heavy objects. Here’s how these hazards can be addressed:

Secure Fixtures and Equipment: Ensure that vices, workpieces, and other heavy objects are securely fastened to machinery or workbenches to prevent accidental dislodgment or tipping.

Safe Handling Practices: Use proper lifting techniques and handling procedures to minimize the risk of dropping heavy objects. Request mechanical lifting aids or team lifting for heavier items.

Clear Communication: Workers should communicate effectively when lifting heavy objects. Alerting nearby students or coworkers before lifting helps prevent accidents. Never lift heavy objects in the machine shop without discussing it with your instructor or supervisor.

During machining operations such as milling, turning, or drilling, workpieces may become dislodged from machinery due to factors such as tool wear, improper fixturing, or excessive cutting forces. These ejected workpieces can be propelled with significant force, posing a risk of impact injuries to nearby workers and students. To mitigate the hazards associated with ejected workpieces, follw these guidelines:

Machine Guards: Use appropriate machine guards to contain ejected workpieces and prevent them from reaching nearby workers. Guards should be designed to withstand impact forces and provide adequate protection without obstructing visibility or access to the work area. If guards seem unsafe, consult your instructor or supervisor.

Secure Fixturing: Ensure that workpieces are securely clamped or fixtured in place before machining operations begin. Use appropriate workholding devices such as vises, chucks, or clamps to prevent unintended movement or ejection of the workpiece during cutting.

By implementing these measures and promoting a culture of safety awareness, machine shops can reduce the risk of injuries associated with falling components. Regular training, hazard assessments, and ongoing communication are essential for maintaining a safe working environment and protecting the well-being of all employees and students.