July 2003

Protecting sheet-metal workers | Essentials

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Protecting sheet-metal workers

by Peter Greenbaum
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On most roofing job sites, controlling mechanized tools is relatively simple. Most mechanized tools used by roofing workers are connected to energy sources, and ensuring a tool accidentally won't start often is achieved by unplugging the tool from its power source.

But in a sheet-metal shop, disabling equipment for inspection or maintenance and safeguarding equipment to keep workers' limbs from getting caught can be challenging. Because some pieces of equipment are used by more than one worker, work shifts change, and machine parts may be removed for repair or cleaning, ensuring equipment is safe for use requires workers to pay attention to the status of machines.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 10,000 on-the-job amputations occurs each year. (Exact numbers are unavailable for roofing-related sheet-metal shops.) The statistic is disturbing because preventing on-the-job amputations can be achieved through a commitment by roofing contractors to train workers.

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