Ensuring Safety in Operating a Lathe Machine

Safety at workplace is paramount for people working in machine shops and metal fabrication units.  The use of high speed machineries to form and cut metal is prone with several dangers to which the operators are exposed. The lathe machine, which is perhaps the oldest and most versatile machine used in machine shops is one of the frontline machines that require special protective devices for operator safety. The lathe chuck guard is one such safety device. In order to understand why it is so important for the machine one has to know about the basic feature of the lathe machine and what could be the ways of protecting machine operators from harm and injuries when working on the machines.

Guarding the danger areas

In general, there are three major areas where safety and protection have to be implemented without any compromise.

  • Guarding power transmission – A machine usually receives power from an electric motor that transmits the power to the machine by using gears, pulleys, belts etc that continuously rotate at high speed. The power transmission point needs to be guarded or covered so that the moving parts are inaccessible to operators.
  • Guarding the point of operation – This means guarding the area where the work of metal production is performed. The purpose is to keep the worker’s hand out of the action zone. The lathe chuck guard comes under this category and there can be interlocks, pull back devices and trip mechanisms that are also used.
  • PPE or Personal protective equipments – This includes wearing safety shoes with steel toes, safety goggles, shirts with short sleeves and using hair nets and hold back clips to prevent loose hair from getting entangled in machines.

The lathe chuck

The lathe chuck is a clamp that is used to hold a rotating tool or a rotating work piece on the machine. There is a collar around the tool base, the reason why it is also called a collet that holds the tool firmly. The chuck rotates at high speed and poses safety hazards while it is in operation, hence the need to provide a guard for lathe chuck.

Selection of chuck guard

The risk of operators getting entangled with the machine or being injured by projectiles during operations can be considerably reduced by using lathe chuck guard. The kind of guard that would be suitable depends upon the kind of operation that is performed n the machine. The guard should be so designed that it does not obstruct the operator’s view and it should not create any obstacles for the operator that can affect machine operations.

A common reason for accidents in lathe machines is that the chuck key is often not removed from the chuck while the machine is switched on. Therefore, special care has to be taken to ensure that the chuck key is removed before the machine is turned on. Before using the chuck, it has to be checked every time to detect damages and catch points that can turn out to be safety hazards.