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Ergonomics Precautions for Sheet Metal Workers

factory worker grinding sheet metal

Ergonomics Precautions for Sheet Metal Workers

Working with sheet metal can put a lot of strain on your body. Many daily tasks cause fatigue, discomfort, or pain when they are done repeatedly and without a lot of rest. For instance, when you exert a lot of force to use a tool, reach overhead, stand in the same position for an extended period of time, or experience pressure from a hard surface, you run the risk of injury. However, there are many things you can do to reduce those risks and remain healthy on the job.

One of the most beneficial precautions you can take before starting your workday as a sheet metal worker is to stretch, much like an athlete would before a race or a game. Start by walking or marching in place for five minutes. Then, do several arm circles followed by slowly stretching your legs, arms, shoulders, and knees. It may sound silly, but it will get your blood pumping and your muscles ready to work.

Safety Tips

Once you’re done stretching, it’s time to get to work. Here are some easy safety alternatives that reduce the risk of injury when working with sheet metal:

  • Keep your wrists straight by using an angled tool or re-position the material to avoid bending at the wrist.
  • Create a workbench that allows you to stand upright as opposed to kneeling to do tasks.
  • Center yourself and move as close as possible to work done overhead. Do not try to reach and extend a hand tool far away from your body.
  • Choose power tools over hand tools whenever possible to avoid excess strain.
  • Change body positions frequently and alternate tasks to give muscle groups a break.
  • Increase the diameter of bucket handles by adding padding to lessen your grip and the strain on your hands.
  • Bring loads close to your body when attempting to pick them up.
  • Use mechanical aids and ask a fellow employee for assistance in carrying heavy loads.

Lacerations

As a sheet metal worker, you also run the risk of getting dangerous cuts. In fact, these are the most common injuries suffered by those in your field, according to the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health (eLCOSH).

Many workers have lost fingers and hands during everyday tasks. It is wise to wear gloves while working with sheet metal. Though gloves do reduce your dexterity and the ability to move your fingers easily, they will prevent these types of dangerous injuries.

Warning Signs of Injury

Tell a supervisor if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Constant fatigue
  • Cold hands
  • Swelling
  • Numbness or shooting pains
  • Tingling
  • Changes in skin color
  • Loss of sensation

You may need to seek medical attention or switch to a different task until your injury subsides.

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