Dust reduction should be accomplished first by engineering control measures (i.e., enclosure, ventilation, air cleaners, vacuum systems and scrubbers). In addition, dust masks, or filtering face pieces, may be needed. It is the employer's responsibility to ensure that masks are used properly, and are discarded at the end of their recommended period of use, or after excessive resistance or physical damage. A respirator program may be required if sanding or polishing granite or other stone containing silica and wet machining techniques are not able to limit the amount of airborne dust.
Protective gloves can protect hands from lacerations, burns, abrasion, absorption of toxic chemicals or skin irritation, and reduce hazards associated with vibration exposure. Cut edges can be extremely sharp, and there is a need to provide proper PPE and training to prevent lacerations on the freshly cut edges. Sheet forming in the solid surface industry is often done with heat. Sheets are heated at bending points with heated strips, or whole sheets are heated in thermal forming units or heat presses. If thermoforming equipment is used in your operation, include the heat source and the hot sheet material as a specific hazard in your written PPE plan, provide hot work gloves such as welding gloves for your employees, and train them on the use of these gloves to prevent burns.
Use proper rubber handles, rubber grips and rubber grommets to minimize the effects of frequent usage of vibratory machinery, such as sanders, routers and saws. Special antivibration gloves that can help eliminate health risks related to vibrating equipment are also available It is a good idea to provide frequent breaks for those dedicated to long-term usage of such machinery to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome.
Many of the operations in SSF can generate significant noise levels. OSHA requires you to assess noise levels, and to provide protection to those individuals exposed above acceptable levels. If noise levels exceed these acceptable limits, the first approach is to utilize feasible administrative or engineering controls to reduce noise exposure. If such controls fail to reduce sound levels to acceptable limits, personal protective equipment (hearing protectors) is required to be provided and used to reduce sound levels to acceptable limits. It is the responsibility of the employer to administer a continuing, effective hearing conservation program, which includes a monitoring program, and an audiometric testing program. These programs have specific and highly detailed requirements that are determined by OSHA.
Machine and Tool Safety
OSHA has identified certain areas in their regulation that require special attention with regard to portable power tools such as used in the Solid Surface Industry. Prior to allowing an employee to use a tool, supervisors must ensure that all employees have received proper and adequate training.
Key points include:
• Keeping all tools in good condition with regular maintenance.
• Using the proper tool for the job.
• Examining each tool for damage before use, and not using
• Operating tools according to the manufacturers' instructions and with the guards provided by the manufacturer.• Using the correct personal protective equipment recommended by the tool manufacturer.
In general, Solid Surface manufacturing uses a number of typical work processes and types of jobs which involve hand and portable tools. These include cutting, grinding and polishing solid surface materials and supporting wood materials, and the use of power and pneumatic tools. The use of pneumatic tools has some specific OSHA requirements.
Electrical Powered Tools
There are three different types of switches and they are used in different applications:
All hand-held powered platen sanders, grinders with wheels 2-in. diameter or less, routers, planers, laminate trimmers, shears, scroll saws, and jigsaws with blade shanks one-fourth of an inch wide or less must have only a positive "on-off" control.
Equipment such as hand-held powered drills, grinders with wheels greater than 2 in. in diameter, disc sanders, belt sanders, reciprocating saws and saber saws, must have a momentary contact "on-off" control and may have a lock-on control provided turnoff can be accomplished by a single motion of the same finger or fingers that turn it on.