It’s a rewarding and exciting career, but working as a Machine Operator comes with its own set of safety risks. Today’s machines are powerful. They run and produce parts faster than ever before. So, it’s essential to use the best safety practices to reduce your risk of injury or machine malfunction.

Of course, all workplace safety is crucial, but it is especially important for anyone operating machinery. There are lots of moving parts, and as the speed of the machine increases, so does the chance of injury. Operators need to respect these machines and avoid potential injuries such as cuts, burns, eye damage, hearing loss, etc..

Most of today’s machines have been designed with safety features to help minimize these hazards, but it is still the operator’s responsibility to follow ALL safety guidelines. Here are some of those to keep in mind:

Wear Required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at All Times

Even with the advanced safety features on today’s machines, operators should always wear personal protective equipment that’s required of their role. Safety glasses, earplugs or muffs, and steel-tipped work shoes give you one more layer of protection and help to reduce the risk of accidents even more. If you feel you need certain PPE to perform your job safely, but haven’t been provided any by your employer, it’s always your right to speak up! Make a formal request to a supervisor, or if you were placed through a staffing agency, let your rep know so they can intervene.

Do Not Remove Machine Guards

Serious injury can result from operators reaching into a machine to clear out jammed material or reposition a component on the machine. Most modern machines are designed with guards or doors that shut down the machine when opened. Some operators have come up with ways to bypass these safety features, which were put in place to protect them.

Guards and doors prevent operators from coming into contact with the machine’s moving parts. They also keep flying debris and sparks inside the machine and away from the operator. There is NEVER an appropriate situation to bypass a guard or sidestep a safety process.

Do Not Wear Loose Clothing or Jewelry

Anything that is hanging loose has the potential to get caught in moving machinery. Operators should be wearing short-sleeved shirts or roll their sleeves above the elbow. Remove all jewelry that could be caught in moving machinery, including rings, watches, and bracelets. Even long hair can become entangled in the moving parts. Keep it tied up and out of harm’s way.

Keep Your Equipment Maintained

Sometimes operators will be responsible for the maintenance of their machinery. By following the required maintenance schedule, your machine will give you optimum performance. Without it, your machine could overheat or jam and create a safety concern.

Every machine is different and requires training and safety considerations. It’s important to understand its operational and safety features and to have the skills to successfully and safely operate it. You are your best advocate for your safety. If you feel undertrained or ill-equipped to operate a machine properly, be sure to speak up! Ask for additional training, or point our suggestions for safer processes. Also, if you see an unsafe practice occur, it’s in everyone’s best interest that you point it out to the appropriate supervisor. Safety MUST be a top priority for everyone in the light industrial field.

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