5 Safety Precautions Needed When Working With Laser Cutters

Doing one’s job with the utmost care, professionalism, and respect should go without saying. After all, being good at something you do as a career path must imply all of these traits. The alternative would mean offering poor quality of products or services, caring little about what you can do for the customers and how you can help your own case, and even risking your position. A good employee knows what it takes to secure the job and be good at it. It is hard work and it takes a lot of dedication and perseverance. They know that it is not all about them but the entire collective as well as the assets of the business. Caring for the colleagues and the tools is important and nothing fleshes this out more than safety at work.

It Is All About Safety

Depending on the industry, there are different sets of safety precautions that the employees have to be familiar with in order to perform their daily duties. This ranges from the basics like hygiene and properly disposing of items to more serious things like handling dangerous equipment that can seriously hurt you or others. This is why safety training is so important and why it is a regular occurrence even for workers who are very experienced in their field. Safety comes in various different ways and the more dangerous the tools, the more attention is being put towards it. In today’s article we dive deep into an industry that hardly needs any introduction in terms of how dangerous it can be.

From the title alone you can get a pretty accurate idea of just how potentially catastrophic the consequences of one’s actions could be. When something includes the word “cutting” it automatically becomes prevalent that increased safety is employed. But when you add lasers into the mix, things are instantly turned up to eleven. Laser cutters are highly specialized machines and they can only be operated by licensed professionals. There are many types and they are used for all sorts of different things, and all of them are tricky to say the least. Join us in the following sections as we discuss the most important safety precautions needed when working with laser cutters including the widely present and commonly used co2 laser engraving machine.

Types of Hazards

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Before talking about precautions that need to take place, there must first be some talk about the hazards that can potentially happen when laser cutters are in use. The most common of all are fire or hot objects. During the operation, a lot of substrate material is burned away and a significant amount of heat is generated. Materials in the immediate surrounding can catch fire during. Increased amounts of debris and dirt can cause fires that spread quickly.

Apart from heat and fire, there are also hazardous vapors and fumes during laser cutting operations. Specific materials will produce laser generated air contaminants, also known as LGACs. These are a concerning health risk to everyone exposed because they can contain airborne toluene, benzene, hydrochloric acid, and isocyanates. Other byproducts will also be present. Other than this, eye damage, skin burns, lacerations, and punctures could happen and do happen.

Precautions to Employ

It is not time to talk about the most important safety precautions that need to be present wherever there is laser cutting to be done.

1. Proper Installations and Exhaust Systems

The very environment in which there is laser cutting on a regular basis needs to be properly exhausted with FP & M approved duct work. The outside of the building needs to have it and the exhaust systems have to be properly installed. ALl of the manufacturer specifications have to be present for the place to be completely safe and sound.

2. Signage All Over the Place

Warning signs are the bread and butter of spreading crucial information regarding potentially dangerous practices and processes no matter the space. There need to be warning signs throughout the area that inform everyone about the risk of exposure during both the use of the lasers and the maintenance. There are all sorts of signs, both general and highly specific, so be sure to use them or pay attention to them if you deal with laser cutters in your line of work.

3. Training and Experience

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Not everyone can operate a laser and cut stuff with it. It is a highly specialized skill that operators need to be trained and experienced in. Potential hazards, operating procedures, and all the necessary safety precautions are taught to the operators during training, for which the owner is solely responsible. Even after training, there needs to be enough experience before those handling the laser can be called true professionals and experts at this dangerous task.

4. Good Conduct and Proper Approach

Handling the laser is a task that is always challenging despite everything mentioned above. There must always be good conduct shown by those handling this operation and their approach needs to be up to a certain standard. For example, they must never operate the system unattended and there should be colleagues nearby to help if things go south. Also, there needs to be a properly maintained fire extinguisher in the immediate area just in case of a fire.

5. Never Mess With the Settings and Features

Last but not least, those operating the lasers must never play with any of the settings or features of the laser cutter. They are there for a reason, especially the ones that in some way, shape, or form limit the power of the laser emission. Do not modify or disable safety features and never operate the laser unless there are covers in place. The interlocks should be working as intended. Wear eye protection but never look directly into the beam. If you have to do so, always wear the right optical instruments. Accepted materials are the only ones that should be used in cutting because many are not meant to be cut by lasers. They produce toxic and corrosive fumes so only work with the ones the laser is meant for. Never operate a damaged or broken laser or the one that has parts missing. Whatever you do, never release the interlocks because the beam could escape the cutter and cause havoc.