Your work with sheet metal involves making, installing, and maintaining heating, ventilation, and air duct (HVAC) systems. It includes cutting raw materials to form and fasten them to create metal building equipment, signs, or vehicles for construction sites. As a result, working with sheet metal requires specialized training on hazards, equipment, and best work practices to maintain safety at your worksite. This includes chemical safety, building hazards, ergonomics, proper housekeeping, vehicle movement, and electrical safety.
Implement these six tips to maintain safety while working with sheet metal.
1. Maintain the Tools
Be sure to use the correct hand, rotary, and squaring shears or hacksaws for the job and sheet gauge. Also, keep the tools sharp so they work correctly. Additionally, wear flexible, protective gloves that let you grip the tools and materials. Plus, wear a hard hat and hearing protection if working on a construction site.
2. Inspect the Devices Before Use
Make sure the mechanical saws, lasers, shears, presses, and stamps are in proper working order before you use them. For instance, ensure the moving blades and parts are shielded. Also, use lockout/tagout and put on safety glasses before performing regular maintenance on the machines. Additionally, avoid wearing jewelry or baggy clothes or letting long hair hang by the moving machinery. Plus, make sure the safety interlock devices are working.
3. Monitor the Ventilation
Use low-emission materials in a well-ventilated area when welding and soldering seams and joints. Also, consider using a respirator to protect your lungs from fumes. Plus, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when using power tools for rivets, nails, and other fasteners.
4. Enhance Your Safety at Heights
Evaluate each job task and site located at an elevated height to determine the safest way to access it. This may involve the use of a ladder, scaffold, or scissors lift and fall protection. Also, look for unguarded and open roof and floor openings and other common fall hazards when performing duct, pipe, or tube installation or roofing, siding, or gutter work.
5. Watch for Extreme Temperatures
Because sheet metal is highly conducive to energy, pay attention to sources of extremely hot or cold temperatures. You can get skin burns from an open flame or other heat source or frostbite from working outdoors in the winter.
6. Use Proper Lifting Techniques
Wear work gloves, coveralls, and sturdy boots to prevent cuts or injuries when you transport sheet metal stock. Also, keep your back straight and let your legs do the work. Additionally, break the materials into manageable loads, ask for help from a teammate, or use mechanical lifting devices.
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