Five Metal Industry Tasks No Worker Should Handle with Bare Hands
December 5, 2019
Many industries rely on efficient and productive metal fabrication. But the handling of raw metal material – most of which is in a raw cast, forged or cut state – comes with the inherent risk of cuts to the hand, fingers and wrist. Metal blocks, billets, bars, tubes and sections are often large, cumbersome and heavy, so the correct choice of cut-resistant yet comfortable gloves is imperative.
These are five key metal fabrication tasks, their cut risks and fit-for-purpose glove solutions.
Casting and melting
Handling cast billets in a foundry is a dangerous job. Not only does the material feature sharp or rough edges, but it is also likely be handled in extremely hot environments.
Within foundries, gloves must provide resistance to cuts and abrasion. A high level of grip performance is also vital as mishandling or dropping cast metal billets or components could well lead to other injuries. In addition, gloves should provide the necessary protection against heat.
By its very nature, forging implies the shaping of metal using presses or drop hammers. This process can also relate to the extruding, bending or punching of components. All of these operations require the handing of metal components with potentially sharp or jagged edges.
Gloves for the forging shop should provide suitable resistance to both cuts and abrasion. Again, grip performance is imperative to avoid potential injury and costs resulting from dropped components. A further requirement of gloves will be to protect against heat.
When it comes to the machining of cast or forged components, or indeed parts from raw material stock, there are likely to be rough or sharp edges that can catch out even the most experienced of machine operators. Component burrs are notoriously difficult to see and can have a razor-like effect on skin.
Machine shop operatives should have access to gloves that can protect against cuts, abrasion and puncture, as well as an appropriate level of chemical resistance as many machining operations require the use of coolant or cutting emulsion.
The use of machining fluids also means that suitable grip performance is required in both dry and wet environments. From a comfort perspective, gloves should demonstrate both dexterity and touchscreen compatibility.
In the finishing shop, typical processes include plating, painting, coating and sealing, all of which are intended to protect components and provide a degree of service life longevity. Although most parts arriving in the finishing shop will have been deburred, or shot blasted, an assessed level of hand protection is still necessary to avoid cuts and abrasion. Handling tools, jigs and fixtures also present risks.
Along with cut protection, gloves selected for finishing shop operatives will have to be compatible with paint. The key here is to seek out gloves that are silicone-free.
On assembly lines, typical operations include the use of hand and power tools and positioning and fastening parts together. A certain amount of component adjustment will also be required.
Although gloves will certainly have to offer a suitable level of cut and abrasion resistance, factors such as grip, dexterity, and overall comfort are further premium requisites.