Basic Tips for Safe Machining

Whether you are a novice or a moldmaker with more than 20 years under your belt, it never hurts to take a moment and review some of the basic steps of safe machining. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety offers tips on keeping safe.

Metalworking machines can be dangerous if not used properly. Read the owner's manuals carefully. Make sure you receive complete instructions and are properly trained before using any tool or machine.

  • Check and adjust all safety devices before each job.
  • Ensure that the guards are in position and in good working condition before operating.
  • Ensure that all stationary equipment is anchored securely to the floor.
  • Ensure all machines have a start/stop button within easy reach of the operator.
  • Each machine should have only one operator at one time. However, everyone should know how to stop the machine in an emergency.
  • Ensure that keys and adjusting wrenches have been removed from the machine before turning on the power. Provide a convenient tool rack.
  • Ensure that all cutting tools and blades are clean and sharp. They should be able to cut freely without being forced.
  • Stop the machine before measuring, cleaning or making any adjustments.
  • Use a vacuum, brush or rake to remove cuttings. Do not handle cuttings by hand because they are very sharp.
  • Keep hands away from the cutting head and all moving parts.
  • Avoid awkward operations and hand positions. A sudden slip could cause the hand to move into the cutting tool or blade.
  • Return all portable tooling to their proper storage place after use.
  • Clean all tools after use.
  • Keep work area clean, well swept and well lit. Floors should be level and have a non-slip surface.
  • Ensure that there is enough room around the machine to do the job safely.
  • Obtain first aid immediately for all injuries.
  • Understand that the health and fire hazards can vary from material to material. Make sure all appropriate precautions are taken.

What Should You Avoid Doing When Using Metalworking Machines?

  • Do not distract an operator. Horseplay can lead to injuries and should be strictly prohibited.
  • Do not wear loose clothing, gloves, neckties, rings, bracelets or other jewelry that can become entangled in moving parts. Confine long hair.
  • Do not remove cuttings by hand. Wait until the machine has stopped running to clear cuttings with a vacuum, brush or rake.
  • Do not leave machines running unattended. Turn power off.
  • Do not free a stalled cutter without turning the power off first.
  • Do not clean hands with cutting fluids.
  • Do not use rags near moving parts of machines.
  • Do not use compressed air to blow debris from machines or to clean dirt from clothes.

What Personal Protective Equipment Might I Need?

  • Use the appropriate safety equipment for the job. Wear CSA-certified safety glasses with side shields or goggles. Prescription eyeglasses are not substitutes for safety glasses.
  • Wear respiratory protection where required.
  • Wear hearing protection when required. If you have trouble hearing someone speak from one meter (three feet) away, the noise level from the machine is too high. Damage to hearing may occur.

Reprinted with the permission of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.