Workshop tools that are used to cut, sand, knurl, and drill are known as lathes. The object to be worked on is fixed securely and whirled on an axis while it is being cut, deformed, or drilled.
Lathes can come in handy while doing various tasks like crafting legs for tables or making bats. It is also used in metalwork, pottery, and when working on complex glasswork designs.
If adequate care is not taken or if the right guidelines are not adhered to, lathes can lead to deadly accidents irrespective of whether it is a novice or a professional handling the machine. Most of the common accidents associated with manual lathes can be easily avoided or prevented to help you derive the best from the machine.
To safeguard yourself from accidents while using the lathe, it is vital to stay focused on the job and remain conscious of the fact that you are handling a powerful machine.
Slicing accidents are the most common of all manual lathe accidents. These occur because you are not following the motion of the lathe closely enough or simply because you were careless. While feeding a chunk of wood into the lathe, be sure to keep your fingers away from the blade’s cutting line.
Instead of putting your hand on the wood to keep it in place, using your fingertips is a better idea. It is easy to underestimate the lathe’s capacity and it can lead to hands being sucked into the machine in a moment’s time.
Accidents with Wood
The wood you are using can also lead to injuries. Poor quality wood has the potential for injury as it can easily break. There are two possible outcomes when this happens.
As the wood is going at top speed, it can hurtle away in various directions and even pierce the neck or body of the worker. A second possibility is the wood worker’s hand getting caught in the lathe when the wood disintegrates causing slicing or cutting wounds.
Accidents with Blunt Tools
While it is commonly understood that a sharp blade on the lathe can be dangerous, what is lesser known is that a blunt instrument is even riskier. This is because a cut made by a blunt blade will not be correct and the wood is likely to shift vigorously when being cut by such a blade. By making sure that the blade is sharp, you can ensure that the lathe functions with accuracy and more predictability.
Types of Lathe Machine Injuries
Airborne material pieces, material kickbacks, and rotating parts are some of the lathe hazards to watch out for. Machine guards can help reduce such hazards alongside engineering controls. Fitting guards on metal lathes as well as other kinds of machine shop lathe gear can help protect clothing and hands from the parts in motion.
Lathe machines should have turned off switches fitted which are also easily accessible. Preparedness to shut off a lathe immediately in an emergency is important. Equipment mishaps that happen when such safeguards are missing can be serious and even cause workplace fatalities.
Here are some typical lathe injuries:
- Injuries to the spinal cord
- Fractures and broken bones
- Nerve injury
- Hair, clothes, and gloves getting entwined in the machinery
- Arm, hand, and finger amputations
- Injuries to the neck and head
- Painful brain injuries
- Arms, hands, or fingers getting crushed
- Blindness or injury to the eye
- Being struck by objects flying away from the lathe machine
Tips for Safe Operation with a Lathe
Lack of necessary training in lathe machine safety, defective equipment, not educating workers on the risks of operating different types of lathes such as manual, CNC, metal, or others as well as the use of lathe accessories, and the failure to set in place adequate safety measures can all lead to industrial lathe catastrophes.
A majority of manual lathe injuries and accidents are a result of the operator’s inability to focus on the lathe. To make the best use of the machine, you should wear safety goggles and gloves before you start. It is preferable to wear specially toughened leather gloves rather than those fabricated from cloth. These can also prevent small cuts and scratches too. The goggles need to be so thick that they fully cover the eyes including the sides.
Before you begin working the lathe, take off all jewelry, tuck in your shirt or t-shirt into your trousers, and roll up the sleeves. Be sure to tie back long hair securely if your hair is long. Take a good look at yourself before moving to the lathe and check for anything that can get caught in the machine. Remove any such item before starting work.
Steel-toe boots are the best protective footwear for this purpose. Since certain types of wood can contain dust which is harmful to your health, you should don a helmet with a dust mask or built-in respirator if that is necessary. Acquaint yourself with the machine’s manual thoroughly before proceeding to use it.
When you work on the lathe, stick to the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding the depth of cut, rotation speed, and feed for the material being used.
Hands and fingers must be kept away from cutting tools and moving parts. When burnishing or filing try not to reach across the workpiece or rotating chuck. Do not use your hand in an attempt to halt a chuck in motion. You should instead shift the cutting instrument far from the metal, shut down the lathe, and then take out the workpiece.
It is a fact that a clean workshop makes for a safe workshop. Clean the work area thoroughly after the lathe has been used. Use a broom or brush to sweep up all metal bits from the work area or the floor after you are done. Avoid touching the metal bits with your hand as these can burn or cut you.
Watch YouTube Video: Lathe Safety. This video shows a few safety tips on how to properly use the lathe machine to avoid accidents.
Employer Obligations under Cal/OSHA
In California, all employers in the private sector have a responsibility to comply with the workplace health and safety laws of the state, which are enforced and overseen by Cal/OSHA. Employers that fail to follow the stipulated safety standards and regulations may face substantial penalties.
Virtually all employers in California, including those with just one employee, are covered under Cal/OSHA regulations. To effectively comply with workplace safety in California, an employer should have a clear understanding of the state’s specific standards, and be aware of the penalties for violations. For more information, click here.
Lathe Machine Accident Lawyers in Sacramento
I am Ed Smith, a lathe machine accident lawyer in Sacramento. If you or a family member has suffered an injury in a lathe machine accident, call me at 916-584-9355 for a free consultation. You’re entitled to receive lost wages and other benefits including workers’ compensation.
I’ve handled personal injury and wrongful death cases in Sacramento and throughout Northern California for 36 years. My dedicated team and I have the experience and knowledge to help resolve your case and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
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