SAFETY FOCUS: Keep it Clean – and Safe

​When considering workplace safety, most people utilizing portable machine tools think first about safe operation of the equipment. That’s completely logical. Any time someone is using a cutting tool with rotating or reciprocating elements that could produce pinch points, the operator must be ever vigilant to avoid hazardous contact with the machine.

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Over the years, much more attention has been given to safety features on machines, safety programs and training, the healthiness of the working environment, and the proper usage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – protective clothing, helmets, goggles, etc.

It is crucial to understand, however, that often overlooked aspects of the workplace can be very hazardous, even though they are not directly connected to equipment operation. The cleanliness and organization of the area immediately around the equipment can directly affect the personal safety of the operator.

Portable cutting tools produce amazing amounts of metal chips that must be periodically cleared. Cutting may require spray lubricants. The machinery will have either hydraulic or air lines or an electrical cord that must be routed safely. There may be control pendants attached to the machine. Rigging, in terms of rope, chain or fixtures required to support the work or the equipment can present an immediate obstacle for an operator to deal with.

Along with these elements are various personal items such as work or lunch boxes, rags, jackets, hand tools, coffee cups, manuals, and on and on. Add that all together and it is easy to see how these factors could all result in tripping, slipping, or falling that could lead to serious injury or even hazardous contact with the machine. It is important to always organize your workspace before operating equipment, and keep your work area tidy through all stages of the work to ensure maximum personal safety.

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