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Safety Tips For Using Workshop Machinery

Posted on 7th Apr, 2017 | By Lorretta Tatham

Manufacturing is (statistically speaking) amongst the most dangerous industries worldwide, so manufacturing and fabrication workers need to maintain the highest level of vigilance in order to prevent injuries or deaths. Around 66,000 workplace injuries were reported in 2015/16, according to the Health and Safety Executive. Around 12% of these were caused by machinery, which translates to just under 8000 injuries due to machinery. Whilst obviously each machine differs, there are some general rules you can follow on the factory floor to help you avoid becoming part of a similar statistic.

Wear Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment

This is the golden rule to staying safe in the workplace, whatever your task or industry. When working on shop floors or closely with machinery, eye protection is the absolute priority in terms of PPE. Machines can send metal shards or other shavings flying at incredibly dangerous speeds and distances, so safety goggles should always be worn regardless of whether you’re operating a machine. Intensive noises are another common shop floor hazard, and commonly associated with conditions like tinnitus. You can curb the worst effects of this on your hearing by wearing ear muffs or earplugs.

Safety shoes are another must on the factory floor, as the ground is often covered with chips or shavings that can penetrate the soles of lighter footwear. Steel-tipped plates in the front of these shoes also protect your toes from potentially dangerous impacts from falling materials. Respirators are another essential piece of safety gear, protecting you from the dust or fumes that machines produce. While the obvious rules of no loose clothing, jewellery or hair all apply when operating machinery, you should also avoid wearing gloves, as these have the potential to get caught and drag your hand into the machinery.

Stay Safe By Knowing Your Environment And Knowing Your Machines

man using workshop machinery

Each machine has its own capabilities (and therefore risks), so a key part of staying safe is to gain a thorough education in the particulars of its use before you go anywhere near it. Between each use you should also inspect your machine before using it, checking for loose bolts, nuts or screws that could fly off and hit someone. If you discover any such faults, even if the machine is active you should always turn it off before tackling the issue, to prevent any risk of physical harm. We mentioned above that gloves are often a bad idea, but you also shouldn’t reduce loose chips or shavings with your bare hands either, because of their sharpness. In these sorts of cases it’s always best to use your judgement, or use tools like a pair of pliers to break them down first.

Don’t ever leave a machine unattended, and make sure you know where the fire extinguishers are located on the shop floor – just in case the worst should happen.

Finally – and this is perhaps our most important piece of advice – trust your instincts, and use common sense. If something is telling you that what you’re doing is unsafe or otherwise unwise, stop immediately and think of another way you could deal with the issue. Sometimes even simple issues might be more complex than they first appear!

At Browns Safety, we offer a wide range of courses aimed at improving safety in the workplace. Amongst these is our Abrasive Wheels Training Course, which deals with a lot of the hazards and risks posed by high-velocity machinery. We offer these courses nationwide – to book a place or to make an enquiry, you can contact us on 01282 615517, or email us on

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