Safe Metalworking: 6 Things You Need to Know

metalwork

If you know your way around hand tools, you know that hacksaws are among the most important and versatile tools to have in a toolkit. They are staples in most workshops and construction sites. And since they allow you to cut through metal without the need for fire or electricity, you can work anywhere without having to carry a heavy load.

According to the Occupational Safety and Labor Administration, the construction and manufacturing industries accounted for most workplace fatalities and injuries. Metalworkers, in particular, are more likely to get injured on the job compared to other job categories within the same industry.

A hacksaw may be a simple hand tool, but you still need to follow safety precautions when using one. Whether you’re cutting metal or working on metal gutter protection, it is important to know how to safely use any tool or equipment. Here are a few safety tips to get you started.

1. Keep your hands covered

Hacksaws have a fine-toothed metal blade that is embedded into a hard D-shaped steel frame. While the blade itself is a bit flexible (a sign that the material is strong), it is kept in the frame at high tension. You could accidentally cut yourself if you’re not careful.

The versatile metal blade is designed to cut through various materials such as metal and plastic. Leaving your fingers exposed is extremely dangerous. Always wear protective work gloves, even for a quick job. Your employer is obligated to provide personal protective gear for their employees, so make sure to ask for one before starting a job.

2. Wear eye protection

Sharp blades are always a source of danger, and you’d be smart to wear eye protection. But it’s not just the hacksaw’s blade that can be dangerous. Make it a point to wear eye and face protection such as a visor, a face shield, or a pair of safety goggles when working.

You also have to protect your eyes from plastic shavings and metal swarf when cutting with a hacksaw. Lastly, you have to ensure that your vision isn’t dimmed or obstructed when wearing eye safety gear. If you can’t see what you’re cutting, stop working immediately.

3. Hold the hacksaw properly

When holding a hacksaw, you have to ensure that your hand and wrist are positioned naturally and comfortably. Using hand tools while holding them awkwardly and uncomfortably is dangerous and can lead to accidents.

Hold the hacksaw similar to a clothing iron, with your hand on the upper portion of the frame that supports the blade. Never forget to wear your safety gear, such as work gloves and eye protection.

4. Secure the materials

You have to check if the material is safe to work on. Ensure that it doesn’t contain any hidden obstructions or foreign objects such as nails, screws, and wiring. Hitting any hard objects such as hidden screws and nails with the blade is extremely dangerous and may cause the hacksaw blade to buckle or even dislodge, possibly leading to an accident.

Finally, you have to ensure that the material you are cutting has been secured in position. Ensuring proper positioning frees your hand and mind up for the cutting work. Being distracted by a shifting pipe can lead to an accident.

5. Cut properly and safely

drilling on metal

Every time you cut material, start slowly to create a groove in the object that the hacksaw blade can take hold of. You can increase the speed a little once the blade is safely in the groove and cutting along the designated position. Only add pressure when the hacksaw blade is sawing downwards.

Keep in mind that the serrations in the blade are set in a way that disallows upward cutting. If you attempt to add pressure while cutting upwards, this may lead to blade shuddering and cause more problems. Always point the teeth of the hacksaw in a forwards direction. Lastly, use the entire length of the blade for each cut.

6. Proper maintenance and storage

We all know that sharp blades are constant sources of hazard, but dull hacksaw blades can also be a source of injuries. Always keep your blade clean and sharp.

Another safety element that is often forgotten is proper storage. Use a sheath to cover a hacksaw that is not in use. A hacksaw that is left in the open is dangerous. Also, injuries have resulted from improper handling before the job has even started.

A final word

These pointers will help ensure a safer and more productive time with a hacksaw. Metalworking is a dangerous profession, and you need to be constantly on guard to keep yourself safe. A simple injury could put you out of work, so always keep these tips in mind when working with metal.

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