Computer numerically controlled machines perform functions formerly handled by humans. CNC machines are commonly used in the automobile part and machinery industries. These machines are capable of cutting and shaping precision parts in either a horizontal or a vertical position.
CNC machinery is universally applicable with a variety of machining tools like lathes, milling machines and multi axis spindles. Many machines are easy to set up and stop simply by plugging or unplugging it.
Even though most CNC machine shop machines are enclosed by doors with clear vision panels secured by metal closures, it is essential that safety precautions are taken at all times when working around them.
Common CNC Machine Shop Hazards
Some CNC applications require a person hand feed the machine. This creates a common hazard whereby a person’s clothing becomes entangled in the machine causing injury or death. Ejected parts can also pose hazards. They can cause lacerations, amputations, fractures or death if those parts strike a person as they are ejected from the machine.
The enclosures to most CNC machines reduce the risk of injury from ejected parts. Still, research shows that the polycarbonate materials used in the vision panel can degrade if exposed to lubricants and metalworking fluids. These can cause the vision panel to weaken and become unable to contain eject-able parts.
Most all ejections are caused by failing to maintain work holding devices or by setup errors. Unexpected movement or faults in starting the machine up can also cause injuries.
CNC Machine Safety Tips
Always work around CNC machines wearing the appropriate safety gear. Goggles and closed-top boots are essential. Gloves are not to be worn unless the machine is inoperable and it needs to be inspected. Prevent access to the operation area by ensuring the CNC machine is fully enclosed and that it is equipped with and interlocked door guard. The machine should not work until the door is in position and tooling should come to a stop when the door is opened.
For infrequently accessed points of operation, the machine should have a fixed enclosure that can be removed for maintenance. Added risk of injury is reduced by the use of a CNC machine’s automatic loading and unloading capabilities.
Be sure the polycarbonate vision panels are solid enough to contain all ejected parts. Verify the rotational speed for the part being cut or shaped is appropriate, and regularly inspect the chuck jaw assemblies, the work piece clamps and all components of the turning fixtures.