Your business is likely classified by OSHA as “Cut Stone and Stone Products.” According to the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA citations cost your industry nearly a half million dollars last year. Equipment safety incidents comprised nearly 1/3 of these fines. This is the cost of the OSHA citations only; it does not take into account any property damage, medical costs, lost work time or lost business that may be associated with unsafe work practices. Avoiding equipment-related incidents requires that you understand OSHA requirements and have effective safety programs in place, including effective tool safety and machine guarding, lockout/tagout, and electrical safety programs.
MACHINE AND TOOL SAFETY
Solid surface manufacturing has a number of work processes that 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. OSHA has identified areas several hazards with regard to use of portable power tools such as those used in the solid surface industry. Supervisors must ensure that all employees have received the right training. Key points include:
• Keep all tools in good condition with regular maintenance
• Use the proper tool for the job
• Examine each tool for damage before and after use. Do not use damaged tools; take them out of service
• Operate tools according to the manufacturers’ instructions with the guards provided by the manufacturer
• Use the correct personal protective equipment recommended by the tool manufacturer
Electrical powered tools, pneumatic power tools and woodworking tools each have their own specific OSHA requirements with respect to use and guarding. You must assess which tools you use and understand OSHA requirements for each.
Machine guards are structures that separate and protect the operator from the point of operation of a machine or tool. This includes hot surfaces, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, and flying chips or sparks produced when using the equipment.
New equipment should come with adequate guards. Leave the guards on at all times. Discipline employees who remove or bypass guards.
You must assess older equipment to ensure that it is properly guarded. Assess the specific hazards by evaluating each piece of equipment. Determine all areas where workers could contact moving parts and be caught, struck or cut, etc. These areas must have guards to prevent contact. Replace any missing guards before allowing anyone to use the equipment. If the machine is old and needs guards, determine if the machine is still made. If so, contact the manufacturer and ask for information on the current guards supplied with new machines. Purchase or replicate the new guard configurations to provide protection. Discard any equipment which cannot be adequately guarded.
Electrical Powered Tools
Switches:There are three different types of switches and they are used in different applications:
• Positive “on-off” control: All hand-held powered 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.
• Momentary contact “on-off” control: Equipment such as hand-held powered drills, grinders with wheels greater than 2 inches in diameter, disc sanders, belt sanders, reciprocating saws, 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.
• Constant pressure switch: All other hand-held powered tools, such as circular saws, without positive accessory holding means, must be equipped with a constant pressure switch that will shut off the power when the pressure is released.
Grounding: Electric power operated tools must either be of the approved double-insulated type, or grounded in accordance with OSHA regulations. Never use electric cords for hoisting or lowering tools. Use a GFIC circuit to prevent shock or electrocution.
Pneumatic Power Tools
Pneumatic power tools must be secured to the hose or whip by some positive means to prevent the tool from becoming accidentally disconnected. Never exceed the manufacturer's safe operating pressure for hoses, pipes, valves, filters, and other fittings. Never use hoses for hoisting or lowering tools. All hoses exceeding 1/2-in. inside diameter need to have a safety device at the source of supply or branch line to reduce pressure in case of hose failure.
Compressed air cannot be used for cleaning purposes, except where reduced to less than 30 psi, and then only with effective chip guarding and personal protective equipment which meets OSHA requirements. Use a diffuser nut to prevent high pressure, high velocity release while the nozzle tip is removed, plus a nozzle tip guard to prevent the tip from coming into contact with the operator.
OSHA has very specific regulations for guards for various types of saws, including circular saws, radial saws, hand-fed crosscut table saws and hand-fed ripsaws. Be sure that you understand and comply with these regulations. Many of these are self adjusting, allowing just enough room for the work to pass through.