Things To Know About Fume Extraction Arms
There are many dangers in a metalworking shop that you need to consider, and protecting your employees should be your first priority. But one of the most significant threats employees face comes from the small particulate matter that cutting and welding metal creates. These small dust particles can easily enter the body when workers inhale them, sending the metal dust straight to their lungs.
While it may seem insignificant, these metal shavings can cause severe respiratory damage that can result in a lifetime of debilitating illnesses. One of the best ways to eliminate the hazard of airborne particles is through the use of fume extractors, or machines that vacuum out the dust. Be aware of the things to know about fume extraction arms and how to best protect your staff members.
Make Sure It Covers the Work Area
The vacuum of a fume extractor is relatively small; this is best for placing it directly in the work area, right where the fumes and metal particles originate. Placing it too far away will allow these hazardous materials to escape the work area, potentially poisoning any employees working directly over metal and spreading throughout the facility.
These dust shavings can accumulate on the walls and ceiling of your workshop, making it dangerous to clean off these surfaces. To eliminate this risk, you need to explain to your workers the proximity the vacuum needs to be to their work area. Attempting to keep it out of the way exposes them to these dangerous situations, as the suction will not be enough to protect them at a distance.
Reposition the Arm
Workers will need to move around their work area to continue working, and they won’t stay in one place for too long. Also, because of this constant movement, the place where the fumes and shavings originate from changes as well. It’s easy to get lost in one’s work, which makes it dangerous to neglect moving the extractor arm along with them as they switch positions.
Your employees need to be careful not to forget to move the arms as well, or else they risk poisoning themselves and others in the area. They must take the time to reposition the arm as close to the work area as possible without obstructing their view; failing to do so is as good as leaving the extractor turned off.
Proper Employee Placement
Aside from making sure the extractor arm is in adequate placement, your workers need to be aware of where they are in relation to the vacuum. As the suction gathers the fumes, it also pulls the hazardous material away from the operator. But, by mistake, employees can position themselves in such a way that puts them in the way of the harmful fumes.
Make sure all workers know the dangers of not paying attention to where they place themselves. It’s not enough that they move the extractor arm to match where they are, but they also need to make sure to keep themselves out of the line of fire. Even with the arm extracting the fumes, your employees will still inhale enough to cause medical issues if they are not careful.
Always Test Out the Fume Hood
Becoming complacent and always trusting that your tools will work leads to mistakes and injuries is one of the biggest threats in a workshop. Staff members need to routinely check the suction of the fume extractor arm to ensure it still performs as well as it needs to.
The danger of the vacuum clogging with material is always high, and neglecting the routine maintenance the machine requires will expose workers to unnecessary dangers. Have employees check the level of suction before and after every use to guarantee that it still functions optimally. This step of precaution serves to protect themselves and the next person who uses it.
Make Sure Arm Retains Rigidity
The extraction arm is flexible, but that does not mean it’s floppy, as the arm must keep the desired shape without moving on its own. Quality extraction arms, by design, keep their tightness for years, but there is always the chance of a mechanical failure that renders them useless. Once an employee notices that there is some sway to the extractor’s arm, you need to look into solutions and replacements.
Allowing the arm to continue to fail will only endanger your employees and leave them vulnerable to inhaling deadly fumes or harmful metal shavings. Inspect the arms before and after use to test their rigidity, and ensure that there is no threat of them drooping and failing the next time a worker needs it.
Have the Necessary Power Source
It’s a question that often goes unasked before a purchase, but you need to know if you can provide the extractor with the power necessary to run it. The suction will require the adequate amount of power to function properly, otherwise you may experience less-than-ideal vacuuming. You will not be able to guarantee the safety of your workers without providing the power behind the suction.
Typically, fume extractors will need about 230 volts of electricity to function optimally. There are low-power models that require less than that amount, but they also provide less suction because of it. Make sure you can get the most out of your extraction arms without overextending your power system. Sucking up too much energy can shut down your entire shop in the worst-case scenario.
Practice Awareness and Protect Employees
Neglecting the necessary safety measures in a workshop will always lead to disaster. One of the silent killers is respiratory issues and poisoning, and neutralizing both threats happens after the use of proper fume extractors. Be aware of the things to know about fume extraction arms and how to best use them for maximum effect.
Failing to keep the hood close to the work area or getting in the way of fumes negates the benefits of extractors and poses an equally deadly risk. Invest in the right welding extraction arms for the most optimal results and always strive to protect yourself, your shop, and all the employees working in it.