Working with lathes should not be a health hazard

12-10-2010

Often found in metal fabrication and maintenance workshops, the metal turning lathe has been involved in a number of fatalities and serious incidents in recent years.

In Victoria alone there have been three fatalities since 2007.

Incidents result from either experienced or inexperienced machinists becoming entangled in the quick spinning workpiece or on lathe attachments.

While the number of injuries resulting from working on metal turning lathes is low when compared to other machinery and equipment (such as forklifts), when something goes wrong the fallout is more likely to result in serious injury to the operator.

According to a workplace safety expert most incidents could have been prevented if workplaces took the time to think about the work they are performing on the lathe.

Marissa Deeble, WorkSafe VIC’s Project Officer for Manufacturing, Logistics and Agriculture, says employers and lathe operators should be aware of measures that can be taken to make the task safer.

This can include the installation of guarding, replacement chucks, faceplates, couplings and clamps with catch points (such as protrusions).

To assist workplaces across all industries identify the hazards and control the risks associated with using lathes, WorkSafe VIC has released a Guidance Note – Safe use of metal turning lathes.

The Guidance Note is available at: www.worksafe.vic.gov.au

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