SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Protecting Students from Machine Hazards
This issue I would like to talk about student safety in technical education shop activities whether it be woodworking, plastics, metal, or any of the other, what I like to call “Learning A Life Learning Skill.” When I lived in Minnesota, I had a wonderful time educating technical education instructors and then had the opportunity to inspect the machines in the tech-ed shops and then offered machine guarding solutions. I helped design the first disc sander guard, the first spindle sander guard, and the first belt sander guard. I made sure that no one could place a patent on them so schools could build them for their shops.
If you plan to purchase a piece of equipment, and would like to ask me some safety questions, please contact me, and I will give you, my advice. I will only need pictures of the machine, and copies of the owners/user’s manuals to evaluate it.
I recently visited a wood shop in a high school here in Arizona to speak to a teacher about offering free safety training to their students from my not-for-profit organization International Association of Safety Health Environmental Professionals (IASHEP) www.iashep.org. While I was in this wood shop, I noted that none of his machines were properly guarded to meet OSHA standards. But he did have one machine he was very proud of even though it did not have a blade guard over the blade. I brought this to his attention, but he explained to me its function, it also had a bypass switch on it that you could override the safety switch in case you wanted to cut plastic, fiberglass, composite materials or even metal. I listened with open ears as he explained that he was also an OSHA certified 10- and 30-hour instructor and teaches his students safety and gives them the OSHA 10- & 30-hour cards. I offered to help train his students on safety and help them guard their machines. They were not interested.
I stand up for safety and protecting workers, especially from being injured on machinery. Some of you may have a machine that the manufacturer says will not cut a hotdog. If you have this type of machine, then I suggest you read the entire set of FAQs on the manufacturers website site and then decide on who makes a safe product. For the life of me, I do not know why a manufacturer would put in writing information on how to bypass a safety device or give ways to potentially misuse a piece of equipment, and potentially put a worker at risk.
At a safety show a manufacture was demonstrating their machine and the salesperson stated to the viewers that she removed the blade shield intentionally so that they could see how fast their brake worked when she sent her hot dog through the machine, simulating a finger. This is very serious, unsafe, and she potentially put onlookers at risk. What would OSHA do if they caught you with a table saw and the blade shield missing? They would cite you for a serious hazard. A machine is either safe or unsafe, and trying to sell it to people who may not know the OSHA or State OSHA regulations is misleading.
The manufacturer questioned me saying “I hear you are telling people to not buy our product?” To which I replied, “I urge consumers to beware when they purchase any manufacturers machinery. They should read everything that is on the manufacturer website and in their owners/operator’s manuals, and always get a letter from OSHA or Canadian Safety Authorities if you have questions on whether a piece of equipment meets their regulations.”
Please also remember if you own this type of machine, or other manufacturers woodworking machine, they are manufactured under the ANSI O1.1 woodworking standard which is incorporated by reference in OSHA 1910.6 and cannot be used to cut other materials such as plastic, composite, or metals since these machines do not have a variable speed motor. But if you read the manufacturer website, once again they say in writing that you can cut other materials with their saw and this statement is just wrong and someday someone will be seriously injured on their machine or other manufactures machines if they are not properly designed according to the ANSI or CSA standard for that machine. I am not trying to call out this manufacture, or other manufactures of machinery, but if we are talking about a machine being safe, let’s really look at safety.
Does OSHA even speak of this issue on using a woodworking machine to cut anything, but wood and the answer is No. So, is it ok? the answer is still No since OSHA has adopted the ANSI O1.1 standard under 29 CFR 1910.6 — 1910.6(e)(43) ANSI O1.1-54 (R 61) Safety Code for Woodworking Machinery, IBR approved for §1910.261(a)(3)(xvii), (e)(7), and (i)(2). OSHA, in my opinion, made a mistake by referring to the 1910.261 standard and not to the 1910. 213 woodworking standards. So, if someone receives an injury, look out for them using the General Duty clause to cite.
Back to cutting metal on a woodworking machine: Cutting Speed (CS) of a material is the ideal number of Feet-per-Minute that the tool-bit should pass over the workpiece. This “Ideal” cutting speed assumes sharp tools and flood coolant. Adjustments need to be made for less-than-ideal cutting conditions. Different materials (high-carbon/low-carbon steels, aluminums, various plastics) have different cutting speeds and should be cut at different rates. In addition, some tools, or processes like threading, knurling, or cutting-off, require a slower speed than the CS would indicate.
The President of the United States, Senators, Congress, and others, are pushing hard to bring back technical education/life learning skills. Which means machines and other pieces of industrial type equipment will be coming back into the classroom. Accidents to students are still happening in woodshops. With the hope that we can help you, and your students, do better, the following links will show you where you can get information to improve their classrooms:
I would love to hear from you, especially if you have children in schools with shops or that are in technical education programs. If you know a student, either in high school or college, that wants to learn safety, health or the environment, have them visit the IASHEP website. They can make a great living and provide a valuable service. I have been doing this for 47 years and have many contacts and advise. If you reach out to me, I will help you.
If you like these articles, let us know. Until the next issue, stay safe.
IASHEP Student Membership Opportunities
High School / Skills USA or Other Similar Organizations $15.00 Annual Dues
The high school student membership includes all the individual membership services plus eligibility for the annual IASHEP Student Awards Program.
Student Membership - $35.00 Annual Dues
The student membership includes all the individual membership services and eligibility for the annual IASHEP Student Awards Program. Student members must be currently enrolled in a technical/skilled trade program.
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