Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shop Class Accidents

This sad news about a young college student who got her hair caught in a piece of moving equipment.   No word on whether it was a lathe, a drill press, or what.  It doesn't take much to kill yourself or hurt yourself seriously in the shop.

I was once using a hole saw to cut a hole in a piece of sheet metal on a drill press.  I hadn't clamped the metal down properly and when the hole saw "bit", the piece of sheetmetal spun around until it hit the back post of the press.  Fortunately I would out of the way at the time, but I realized that if my belly had been closer to the press, that piece of sheetmetal would have neatly disemboweled me.  Ouch.

Air hoses and air equipment can be fatal as well.  There is an old story told, and there is no reason to believe it is not true, of guys screwing around with air chucks - which are little air nozzles we used to spray off dust and chips from tools.  One guy "gooses" another with it as a joke, but ends up inflating his bowels until they explode.  Not fun.

Heavy weights are another problem.  Dropped machinery and setting down heavy pallets can be a problem, particularly if they land on your foot.  Steel toe boots might help - or they might end up clamping the mangled part of your foot.

Electricity in the shop or lab is dangerous as well - particularly high voltage (5000V) lines.  I was once asked wire up a centrifugal compressor with six leads of triple-ought copper.  I asked "where is the power shutoff?" and the other tech said, "what, don't you trust me?" and I replied, "No, no, I don't.  Not with 5000 Volts."

"Good answer" he said.

I was sorry to hear the report about the young college student.   But if you are going to work in the shop, tie your hair up.  Long hair and rotating machinery is almost an instant prescription for an unpleasant death.