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Metal lathes - can they be made safe?

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article image Metal lathes - can they be made safe?

Pilz Australia offer some useful information regarding the lathes and the safe use of them.

Metal lathes spin at high speed – some at more than 6,000 rpm – and the item being fabricated can throw off hot, sharp pieces of metal. Pieces of the lathe itself can also shoot out at high velocity. Dangerous projectiles include cutting and cooling fluids, the cutting tool and even a chuck key left in the chuck.Common injuries suffered by lathe users include foreign bodies in the eye, fractured fingers, lacerations to the hands and fingers, head and deep tissue injuries caused by being drawn into the spinning chuck, and lead screw caught on loose clothing.

How can metal lathes be safer, and how can these risks be minimised?

A simple interlocked chuck guard connected via a Category 4 control system in accordance with AS4024.1 that prevents the machine from starting while open, will remove or significantly reduce most metal lathe safety risks. These guards and Category 4 interlocking and control devices are readily available and adaptable for just about every brand of lathe on the market. Apply them correctly and the most common risks associated with these lathes are eliminated without depending on human behaviour.
 
A truly safe design does more than simply stop the machine when people might be at risk – it keeps it productive and easy to use so operators aren't forced to choose between their safety and getting the job done. In other words, the safety system must adapt to the normal use of the metal lathe. When metal lathes need to be run with the guard open during set-up, for example, fit a two-hand control system that allows the operator to run the machine at a safe, low speed, rather than an interlock that can be switched off. With both hands away from the rotating hazards and ejection hazards minimised due to the safe low speed, or jog mode, the operator/setter is protected.

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