The features that allow a mechanical shear to slice through metal with ease--power and sharpness--also make the machine an extreme safety hazard if not operated correctly. Carelessness while operating shears is a primary cause of amputations in the workplace, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. But there are several steps that shear operators can take to prevent accidents.
Wear eye protection and safety shoes
Shards emitted from the cutting area can cause amputations or other injuries. Wear glasses to protect your eyes and shoes that protect the feet. Consider installing protective guards around the shear's feeding points.
Avoid Loose Clothing or Accessories
Wear tighter clothing and avoid accessories; they can get caught by the blade. Consider installing automatic-feeding devices that limit exposure such as conveyors.
Inspect the Machine Before Using It
Perform routine maintenance on the clutch and braking systems. Inspect all guarding to insure it is properly in place before using the machine.
Don't Put Feet Near the Foot Pedal Until Hands Are Clear
Accidents sometimes occur when operators unintentionally step on the foot pedal while their hands are near the blade. To prevent this keep feet away from the pedal when the shear is not activated. If the shear is hand operated, consider installing controls that require two-handed operation.
Never Place Hands Between Material and Table
Prevent inadvertently putting your hand near the blade by making sure you never put your hand between the material and the table. OSHA recommends installing guards around the shear's feeding and hold-down points to prevent contact with the blade.
Keep Area Around Machine Clean and Clear
Make sure the area around the shear is free of slippery liquids such as oil. Use adequate lighting and place awareness devices around the machine such as barriers and warning cones. OSHA also recommends installing a safety trip control such as a tripwire on the back side of the shear.
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