How to Assess Health Hazards in a Metal Fabrication Shop

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Metal fabrication shops have a number of inherent dangers. Working with heavy materials and machinery can create crushing and dropping injuries. Grinding operations can cause eye injuries, and welding operations can cause burn injuries and risks of toxic fume inhalation. Small tool operations can cause repetitive movement injuries, and guard mechanisms on machines can become unstable. All these health hazards call for periodic assessment of the work environment and constant attention to good safety procedures and practices.

  • Check machinery. All machinery should be in good working condition with no missing parts or broken or loose guardrails. On-off mechanisms should be carefully maintained. Work areas around machinery should be clear of clutter, and metal debris from operations should be removed regularly. Loose clothing or long hair should not be allowed around working machinery.

  • Maintain ventilation equipment. All work areas should have working exhaust and ventilation equipment that is maintained regularly. Paint areas are curtained or in a separate area. Welding areas, in particular, should have welding exhaust hoods. Respirator masks are easily accessible. All welders are trained in their use and encouraged to use them at all times

  • Protect welders from burn injuries. Make sure all welders are wearing suitable clothing to protect arms and legs while welding. Kelvar sleeves, shoulder coverings, and aprons are used as needed. Provide an easily-accessed first-aid cabinet with bandages and ointment for minor burns.

  • Provide a safe grinding area. Grinders routinely throw bits of metal into the air at a high rate of speed. Make sure grinders securely fastened to bench or floor. All workers should use eye protection. Workers near grinding operations are shielded from flying metal with barriers or dividers.

  • Eliminate fire hazards. Cloth or other flammable materials are removed from welding departments. Education on the safe use of welding equipment is provided. Paint and solvents are stored in fireproof metal cabinets.

  • Check general shop areas for hazards. Material are stacked safely on shelves and racks. Heavily-trafficked areas are free of debris and floor hazards. Handling equipment is in good working order, and training is provided to all employees on safe material-handling procedures. All hand tools are the right size for the job and in good working operation. Wrist braces and back braces are available for all workers. Flooring is clean and well-maintained. All work clutter is removed immediately.

  • Make health and safety an ongoing training exercise. Signs regarding safe use of equipment are posted at various points in the work area. All new employees go through health and safety training immediately upon hirie. Supervisors should remind workers of health and safety procedures on an ongoing basis. Workers are encouraged to bring safety problems to the attention of their supervisors.

Tips & Warnings

  • Getting all employees interested in health and safety procedures helps lower the rate of injuries and illnesses.



  • Photo Credit grinder sparks image by Mateusz Papiernik from

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