Preventing Shop Accidents

Equipment maintenance and repair is necessary to avoid down time and to minimize major repairs. However, maintaining and repairing machines can lead to serious injury. Workers should be trained in shop safety and have the proper equipment to minimize or even eliminate the impact of shop accidents.

Causes of Injuries When Repairing Machines

  • Improper Lifting. By lifting incorrectly or lifting items that are too heavy or awkward causes back injury.
  • Poorly Maintained Tools. Using tools, such as chisels with mushroomed heads, could result in a piece of metal flinging off and hitting a bystander or the worker.
  • Improper Hydraulic System Maintenance. Pinhole leaks in a hydraulic system with over 2,000 pounds per square inch of pressure can easily penetrate skin.
  • Using the Wrong Tool for the Job.
  • Unsafe Repair in Field. Many accidents occur when repairing machines in the field without stabilizing them so that the machine will not roll or fall and crush the worker.
  • Dropping Heavy or Sharp Objects. The worker who fails to wear gloves, hard hats, steel-toed shoes, or other protective gear often suffers the worst injuries.
  • No Safety Shields. Fragments of the grinding wheels or tool being ground can fly off and injure someone.
  • Bad Wiring. The old two-wire outlet and older power tools do not provide a ground, thus exposing the worker to the potential of an electrical shock.
  • Unsafe Work Areas and Habits. Examples of unsafe conditions are such things as incorrect use of a ladder, not blocking hydraulically-supported machinery when working on it, working in an elevated position without proper footing, not using the right supports or safety equipment, and cluttered work areas.
  • Repairing Machinery While Running. Trying to unclog a machine while it is running, tightening a bolt, or doing other repairs is an accident waiting to happen.
  • Poorly Maintained Work Area. Leaving oil or other fluids or debris on the floors and workbenches can cause falls.

Prevention of Injuries When Repairing Machines

  1. Develop safe work areas, good habits, and establish good housekeeping practices.
  2. Train workers and family members and encourage safe work habits.
  3. Maintain machinery properly and promptly when repairs are needed. Read operating and repair manuals and keep them handy.
  4. Slow down and take time to think. Visualize what steps need to be taken. Do not rush a job!
  5. Turn off the machine when working on it. Prevent others from accidentally starting the machine by removing the keys or the battery cable. Lock the brakes and stabilize the machine. Do not use a jack alone to stabilize a raised machine!
  6. Keep shields and guards in place.
  7. Wear proper clothing and protective gear. Do not wear loose, dangling clothes that can become entangled in moving parts. Wear protection appropriate to the job such as gloves, eye protection, ear protection, hard hats, and steel-toed shoes.  Wear welding masks and goggles, gloves, and leather aprons when welding.
  8. Use ladders properly. Firmly place the ladder on the ground with a distance away from the wall no more than 1 foot for every 4 feet of height. Do not use metal ladders near power lines.
  9. Lift objects correctly. Lifting subjects the back to its greatest stress. Keep the back straight while using the legs to lift the object. If heavy objects are to be lifted, provide back supports for workers. Better yet-use mechanical lifting devices.
  10. Have a hazard-free shop. A well-lit, clean work bench and work area, along with a regular cleaning schedule of the shop area, will go a long way in eliminating hazards.
  11. When working on electrically powered equipment, lock out the control box to prevent someone from accidentally turning on the equipment while someone is working on it.
  12. Isolate hazardous work areas. Have a proper storage area for paints, pesticides, and oily rags. A separate area is needed for welding with a fan to vent gases from welding. Keep compressed gas welding cylinders in a safe area and secured so that no one can accidentally knock cylinders over and accidentally break off the valves.
  13. Be aware of common safety hazards. Take the time to look where you are going: not only ahead, but behind, to the side and above.

Compiled by John Fouts. For more information, contact WSU Extension, (509) 477-2048.