Owing to their high speed and precision, laser cutters are a godsend for many modern metal fabricators. These high-tech cutting machines use a focused and high-powered laser beam to cut various metal materials into virtually any desired shape and size.
Unfortunately, metal laser cutting is a dangerous job that requires special care and training to do safely. This means that users of metal laser cutting must take steps to protect themselves and their workers against the potential hazards that laser cutters pose.
Whether you're looking to use a metal laser cutter for an upcoming job or just want to gain an understanding of how laser cutting can be performed safely, check out these best practices for ensuring safety when using metal laser cutting machines.
Ensuring laser cutters are operated by qualified and competent persons only
Well-made metal laser cutters are typically fully enclosed, low-risk cutting machines that don't pose any serious hazards to their users when used the right way. To ensure laser cutting safety, operators must be properly trained in the proper use of the operating controls and safety protocols to be followed on the job.
Providing all workers involved in laser cutting operations wear the required PPE
Everyone directly involved in the operation of laser cutters must wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Some common types of PPE required for the job include the following:
- Protective clothing to protect the skin from scalding and burns
- Safety glasses to prevent retinal damage and other eye injuries
- Ear protection to prevent loss of hearing ability due to operation of noisy equipment
All required PPE must be inspected before use. Any damaged PPE items should be replaced and discarded.
Performing pre-start inspections on laser cutting equipment
Before a laser cutter can be used to cut metal, the machine must be thoroughly inspected to ensure it's working properly. A pre-start inspection of a metal laser cutter involves making sure that all residue from the last job is effectively removed from the enclosure. If any combustible material is left inside, it can pose a fire hazard and also result in the contamination of metal being cut.
During pre-commencement inspections, the laser cutter's exhaust and air filtration systems will also need to be checked. This will help prevent air quality issues that may damage the machine and harm the operators' health.
Although laser cutters help users make light work of metal cutting tasks, they have inherent dangers that must never be disregarded. To ensure your metal laser cutting job is carried out safely, be sure to follow the above safety practices.