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Avoiding Accidents & Injuries in the Metalworking Operation

Avoiding Accidents & Injuries in the Metalworking Operation |


If there is more good news to be shared about the current state of the U.S. workplace, it’s that the rate of accidents and injuries are on a healthy downward trend. However, the costs associated with these workplace injuries continue to rise, providing businesses with more financial headaches than relief.

It’s not hard to see how economically devastating workplace accidents can be when you take into account four of the top 10 causes and direct costs of the most disabling U.S. workplace injuries:

  1. Overexertion involving outside sources
    (lifting, pushing, pulling and other actions involving objects) caused 23.4% of injuries and cost employers $13.7 billion.
  2. Falls on the same level
    caused 19.2% of injuries and cost employers $11.2 billion.
  3. Struck by object or equipment
    caused 9.1% of injuries and cost employers $5.3 billion.
  4. Other exertions or bodily reactions
    caused 7.2% of injuries and cost employers $4.2 billion.

The numbers show there is still a long way to go to reduce the financial implications of an unsafe workplace, especially in certain areas of the metalworking industry. Fortunately, there are solutions available to decision-makers when they choose to seriously consider the application of-and the benefits provided by-the core automated processes used in the handling of metal scrap and spent fluids.

Avoiding Accidents, Injuries & Illnesses In Metalworking Operations |

Heightened Potential for Accidents

Metalworking operations typically generate pounds of metal chips, shavings, grindings and turnings for every metal part they machine. In the process, they also use large amounts of heavy-flow flood coolant to facilitate faster cutting and send the scrap material away from the tool. Factor in the number of parts a high-volume operation machines per day, with scrap and coolant ending up on the shop floor, and it becomes clear how cluttered, wet walking surfaces can create a number of potentially dangerous scenarios.

  • Shoveling, sweeping and manually handling metal chips and turnings can often lead to lacerations and overexertion injuries.
  • Forklift trucks can present a significant safety hazard to operators as well as anyone in the proximity of forklift traffic in a facility.
  • The likelihood of slip and fall accidents is higher when oily coolant is allowed to accumulate on shop floors.
  • Overexposure to metalworking fluids can put employees at risk of contracting serious illnesses or diseases.




Lower-volume operations deal with these hazards as well, just on a smaller scale.
But it doesn’t take much of either material to cause an accident, injury or illness such as:

Back strains, joint sprains, cuts |

Back strains, joint sprains, cuts, bruises and other musculoskeletal conditions resulting from employees manually handling, pushing or lifting heavy loads of sharp scrap metal.

Slips, trips and falls |

Slips, trips and falls on floors that are saturated with spent coolant and cutting oil, which was designed to maintain and prolong the life of machine tools.

forklift truck |

Being struck or killed while operating or working in proximity of a forklift truck, equipment that spares workers the task of lifting heavy loads but brings its own set of hazards to an operation.

hypersensitivity pneumonitis |

Asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis (an allergic type of pneumonia) and other lung diseases involving the immune system that can result from occupational exposure to metalworking fluids.3 Additional ailments can include dermatitis and cancers of the pancreas, larynx, skin and bladder.4



Automate to Eliminate Hazards

To reduce occupational hazards in industrial operations that are largely automated, it is imperative to also automate the chip and fluid management process with equipment solutions from PRAB.


Metal Scrap Processing Equipment


By reducing metalworking scrap to flowable chips and separating chips from spent fluid for recycle or reuse, an operation can increase productivity, get more value from its metal scrap and use less floor space for moving and storing this material. Creating a cleaner, safer working environment is another important and valuable result that can be achieved by using PRAB briquetters, crushers and shredders, wringers and centrifuges, and horizontal screw presses.


Cutting Fluid Recycling Systems


Coolant is essential to the metalworking process, but it presents some challenges for employees who must work within close proximity to it. Used coolant produces a rancid odor as the bacteria within the contaminated fluid propagates and requires treatment with expensive biocides to control the foul odor. Employees can also be vulnerable to skin irritations resulting from rancid coolant contacting exposed skin. In either case, employee morale and overall productivity can be compromised by an uncomfortable or unsafe working environment. PRAB Guardian Coolant Recycling Systems and tramp oil separators can help prevent these unpleasant consequences.


Automated Conveyor Systems


PRAB offers numerous options that can reduce or eliminate the need to handle sharp metal scrap manually or with forklift trucks, including steel belt conveyors, drag conveyors and in-floor trough conveyors. The best choice for a specific application will depend on a number of operational factors; high-rate applications in particular require a multi-faceted conveying solution capable of handling large volumes of scrap and fluid in an efficient, automated fashion.



White Paper: Avoiding Accidents, Injuries & Illnesses In Metalworking Operations |

White Paper: Avoiding Accidents,
Injuries & Illnesses In Metalworking Operations


Read our white paper to learn more about how PRAB’s automated scrap processing, fluid recycling and conveying systems help prevent accidents, injuries and illnesses in metalworking operations. These systems are designed to quickly and efficiently remove large amounts of scrap metal and spent fluids from core operations and transfer them where they can be safely processed, disposed of or recycled. It is critical for metalworking operations to understand and assess the advantages of each available equipment solution as they apply to a specific operation. PRAB’s experienced system specialists will help you select the best solution for your specific needs, achieve the greatest return on your investment and maintain the safest possible workplace.