Metal Fabrication Safety – How to Keep the Shop Safe

Workers in the metal fabrication industry are often exposed to high-risk activities, such as welding ferrous materials. A single day on the job in a metal fabrication facility will quickly and visibly show you the frequency in which dangerous tasks are carried out in tandem.

If you work in or manage a metal fabrication facility, a thorough understanding of the unique industrial safety risks and how to combat them is a necessity. This is not optional – people’s lives and well-being are at risk with every task requested of them.

3 Most Common Safety Concerns in Metal Fabrication

First, let’s cover the most common safety concerns within the metal fabrication industry, their costs, and an umbrella method of solutions.

1. Machine Guarding

According to OSHA reports, guarding and the proper usage of machinery cost the metal fabrication industry nearly $3 million. Moving machinery creates the potential for crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, and blindness. Any machinery, function, or process that can cause injury to your workers has to be safeguarded properly.

Primary violations centered around the requirements for design and construction. Lockout/Tagout violations were the second most frequent citation, with safety violations related to machinery fell third. Some of the most dangerous machinery cited include mechanical power presses, mechanical power-transmission apparatus, abrasive wheel machinery, woodworking machinery, and hand and portable power tools and equipment.

2. Electrical

Electrical hazards were the second-most cited area, costing the metal fabrication industry nearly $750,000. Even when fatalities aren’t the outcome, low voltage currents have the potential to permanently harm a human being. Electrocution is responsible for 7.3% of all workplace fatalities. Fortunately, this is highly preventable.

The most common violations with electricity included extension cord safety, improper grounding, lockout/tagout procedures, and wiring design. The employees at primary risk use electric-power tools and equipment, and any employee responsible for handling electrical issues. Another key citation in this area is improper and insufficient employee training.

3. PPE

Improper equipment and training in this area cost the electric fabrication industry upward of $500,000. Employers need to determine what protective equipment is necessary for each employee to safely carry out each task required of them, and the right PPE will vary. In the metal fabrication industry, common risks that can be mitigated by protective equipment include metal fumes, airborne silica, molten metals, chemicals, heat, and falling hazards – to name a few.

The most common citations by frequency were issued on the following: respiratory protection, “general requirements” such as equipment provision and training, eye and face protection, hand protection, and foot protection.

How to Keep Your Shop Safe

The most effective method of keeping your metal fabrication shop safe is 3 pronged: identification, prevention, and safety culture. To make your shop a safe workplace, first, you need to conduct a thorough safety assessment to identify the risks that need prevention. These risks are unique to your shop. Once you’ve completed your safety assessment, the preventative measures in which your risks may be addressed need to be implemented. These measures are best implemented as procedural steps within each risk area.

Ultimately, though, the continued safeguarding of your employee’s health may only be accomplished through a transformative safety culture; when every employee is engaged and committed to a safe workplace, the goal of zero injuries can easily be obtained. If you’d like a professionally conducted safety assessment of your metal fabrication shop, please do not hesitate to reach out to us by phone at 630.759.9908 or by email at