Last month we talked about safety and the importance of not minimizing this aspect of managing your shop or office. Since I wrote that article I attended a class on safety. One thing that stood out to me is that injuries really do happen. Being prepared and having a plan of action when they occur will not only make your insurance company and OSHA happy, but it benefits the employee and saves precious time after an accident happens.
By way of example, let’s say an employee ingests some joint adhesive glue. (Yes, somewhere, some time this will happen to an employee.) What do you do? This is where your Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) will be very helpful. Do you have them? Where are they? Will it take 20 minutes to find? That’s too long. I asked these very same questions after the class and realized our company needed to make some improvements.
An MSDS program is easy to set up. Most sheets can be obtained from the product’s supplier. You can also find them with a Google search. Once you have the MSDS you need to familiarize yourself with the correct procedure if an accident happens. I would suggest a few shop personnel do the same thing. The next step is to put the safety book out in the shop, perhaps next to the first aid station. Keeping it in the office under a stack of papers isn’t going to help during an emergency.
In our industry, especially on the solid surface side, we use hot melt glue every day. Have you ever had hot melt drop onto your skin? What is the best thing to do when this happens? Your first inclination is to rip it right off. But according to the MSDS, it’s not the best practice. The correct way is to run cool water on the area until the hot melt cools down and gradually peel the glue away. Pulling at it right away will usually remove skin, leaving an exposed wound as well as a burn. Be sure to read those sheets. They have a lot of helpful information.
Another area where preventive steps can be taken to avoid a potential accident is machine guarding. We have all heard of terrible accidents happening to employees in big machinery shops, but no matter the size of your shop, your have potential machine guard accidents ready to happen.
Many shops have the standard grinding wheel. Did you know
there are safety standards that, if not followed, can cause the grinding wheel to break with
the potential risk of some serious eye and face injuries?
If you look at a grinding wheel, the bottom plate where the tool would rest should be no further apart from the surface of the wheel than ⅛ in. to prevent the work from being jammed between the wheel and the rest, which may result in wheel breakage. Also, the top plate should be about ¼ in. from the wheel. This way if the grinding wheel were to break, most of the debris would exit from the back of the tool. One last thing you should do before using a grinding wheel is what they call a ring test. Tap the wheel with a metal object. If you hear a ring-like sound the wheel is good. If you hear a thud sound, however, it is time for a new wheel.
There are many areas of your shop that need to be looked at. The examples we just mentioned are only a few. In many cases it can’t be accomplished by just one person. That’s where a safety committee is of great value. Using the employees who will make the program a success is very important. Have at least one shop worker, if not more. Having someone in the shop that’s on board is a great advantage in making the program work. The committee’s job should be to find areas that need improvements and develop a plan of action. The committee should meet at least once a month.
Remember that while this article may be No. 2 on safety, we should all remember to keep safety in the shop the No. 1 priority. Read the full story on Part 1 here.