Lathes are exceptionally useful for cutting sheet metal or wood, but if used improperly, they can be incredibly dangerous. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the most common injuries caused by lathe accidents are broken fingers, cuts to the hands, and hot shrapnel in the eyes. Below are some safety precautions to take when operating a lathe or a similar piece of heavy fabricating equipment.
It’s important to learn as much as you can about your lathe before using it for the first time. And, even if you’re an old hat when it comes to lathe work, it never hurts to revisit your user manual. Examine the lathe for any loose, damaged or missing parts, and be certain that all guards and shields are in place. Lathe cutting tools should also be sharp at all times—a dull blade is more dangerous than a sharp one.
Although the goriest lathe accidents usually involve hair or clothing getting caught in the machine, this is also very rare. Eye injuries from chips of wood or metal are much more common. It is always a best practice to wear protective eye goggles when working with heavy equipment, and with lathes it is crucial.
Always wear short sleeves, or long sleeves with fitted cuffs, that cannot get caught and drawn into the lathe. Remove any necklaces, ties, scarves, or other accessories, and pull back long hair. Wear long pants and sturdy work shoes to protect your legs and feet from hot metal. Wrist watches and bracelets can also get caught in a lathe, so be sure to remove these as well.
As you cut with the lathe, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for rotation speed, feed and depth of cut for the material you are working on. Keep your hands and fingers away from any moving parts or cutting tools. Avoid reaching across the rotating chuck or work piece when you are filing or burnishing. Never use your hand to stop a moving chuck. Instead, move the cutting tool away from the metal, turn off the lathe and remove the work piece.
If you are in need of vertical lathes, plasma cutters, press brakes, punch presses, or any other form of fabrication equipment, call ASMI. We stock a large inventory of metal fabricating machines that can be purchased or rented. To inquire about our inventory, contact us here.