6 Safety Tips For Working With Steel Channels
What are safety tips for working with steel channels?
- Make sure your team is prepared to work with steel
- Clear the ground
- Keep fire safety measures in hand
- Maintain clean work spaces and exits
- Follow instructions and best practices with tools
- Inform supervisors of unsafe conditions
Steel channels are extremely versatile steel products. You can find them in nearly every application. From utility shelves to corner braces to steel sheds, these channels are used in a variety of sizes, thicknesses, and grades.
To make use of this versatile steel piece, one must know how to properly cut, shape, handle, and assemble steel channels. But to do that while avoiding injuries and expensive medical treatments, extra care must be taken when working with steel channels. Here are the most important safety tips for steel channels to remember.
Make sure your team is prepared to work with steel
Without the right preparation, handling steel can be a dangerous task, especially when it comes to the risk of getting tetanus. It’s a medical condition that you can contract through Clostridium tetani bacteria, which can enter your body if you become nicked or cut while handling steel (particularly if there’s rust or dirt on the steel piece).
So, make sure your team is thoroughly prepared to work with material by keeping up with their tetanus boosters. These shots last from 7 to 10 years, and help to greatly minimize the risk of infection.
Likewise, they need the right protective gear to work safely with steel channels. Make sure each member of your team has a full set of personal protective equipment (PPE) before allowing them to work. This should include helmets, thick leather work gloves, steel-toe boots, eye protection (such as safety goggles and welding masks), respirators, and ear protection (such as earmuffs or earplugs).
This equipment protects them from the razor-sharp edges of steel channels, dropping hazards, metal debris, bright lights, fumes, and the noise that is common in steel fabrication and installment. This ensures that they are protected on the job, and are less likely to experience major injuries or accidents.
Clear the ground
The second most common cause of workplace accidents when working with steel is, surprisingly, tripping. In the hustle and bustle of the factory floor and the project site, it’s easy for debris and materials to pile up on the floor.
That said, you must take the time to clear the ground of any spills, loose steel pieces, or any other tripping hazards. Doing this will not only prevent accidents but will also help keep your workplace cleaner and more organized.
Keep fire safety measures in hand
There are plenty of steel-working tools that use fire or generate hot sparks. So, fire is a consistent hazard when it comes to using steel channels. You must keep anything flammable away from your work areas, such as paper or volatile chemicals, and keep fire safety measures close at hand.
Equip each factory floor that you have with fire extinguishers and sprinklers. For outdoor work areas, be aware of any dry conditions or high winds that can result in a fire. It may be best to keep a water source and a powerful hose nearby in case of a fire.
Maintain clean work areas and exits
Along with the floor of your workspaces, make sure to keep any clutter off your workstations, equipment bays, and exits.
A messy work area is one full of tripping and fire hazards. It will also eat up the space you and your people have to work, making it difficult to use your tools, equipment, and steel materials properly. Even worse, this mess can obstruct a fire exit, preventing timely escape in cases of emergency.
Make sure to clean up your work to prevent clutter from building up in your workspace. And, be sure to put every tool, equipment, and spare steel material in the proper storage areas after use.
Follow instructions and best practices with tools
Misusing tools and machines is a common cause of steel fabrication injury. One small mistake can cause some serious damage to both the steel piece and the person holding the equipment.
Take the time to walk each person on your team through training and best practices for the equipment they’re assigned to use. This will help ensure that each tool or machine is used for its intended purpose, and is being used correctly.
Lastly, make sure to educate them on how to clean and maintain your equipment. Doing this will prevent malfunctions during use.
Inform supervisors of unsafe conditions
Finally, always be vigilant when working with steel channels. If you see something that could potentially hurt someone, take action. If you are a team member, inform your supervisor of the hazard so that it can be taken care of before it causes an accident.
If you are a supervisor (or some other similar position), then keep an eye out for any unsafe conditions. You play an important role in keeping your and your team’s working environment safe, and being proactive about their safety will greatly reduce the risk of danger.
No one wants to get hurt when working with steel channels, but it’s a distinct possibility when you don’t follow the best safety practices. Luckily, at Metal Exponents, we follow these safety tips for steel channels to keep our working environment and project sites as safe as can be.