Safety management in foundry
Foundry operations consist of several hazardous processes, which have the ability to affect the health of workers as well as cause injury to health. The foundry industry has evolved over hundreds of years in terms of technology. However, due to inherent nature of handling of raw materials such as sand and metals, there are hazards which need to be addressed in a systematic manner so as to reduce the risk (chances of harm). In a typical foundry unit, the areas of concern can be classified into three major operations as follows
- Raw material preparation
- Preparing the product
A typical Foundry operation consists of several hazardous steps.
Foundry safety includes
- Raw material offload
- Batch preparation
- Loading in furnace'/li>
- Ladle handling
Each of the steps has risk and hazard of certain varying magnitude.
The raw material preparation section includes mould preparation. Mould preparation involves use of dust on daily basis. Workers must be provided with adequate protection for preventing the overexposure of dust
The biggest risk is ladle handling, which involves molten metal at very high temperature.
The outlet system for molten metal from the furnace and immediate surrounding area has to be designed such that it is safe for human contact. This calls for careful design as per specific area requirements. Old furnaces or furnaces which require retrofits must consider a safe design for collection of molten metal. Some of the steps which are critical are the out flow rate, slope of the outlet pan, ease of pouring it in saddles, height from ground and adequate space clearances. In addition, the workers must be sensitized of various hazards of molten metal through a simple interaction before being granted work permission to operate it. This can ensure the familiarity of the operator, safety consciousness and following necessary safety procedures (by experience or otherwise). Furnace operations must also consider keeping a dry chemical powder fire extinguisher during the metal pouring operations.
Following hazards are associated with foundry operations
|Operation||Injury or Hazard associated with operation|
|Raw material handling||Injury to foot and toes during unloading operations|
|Hammering||Injury to foot and toe. Injury to hands and shoulders|
|Batch operations- Loading furnace||Injury to hand and foot|
|Preparation of mould||Dust inhalation|
|Confined space loading||Lack of air|
|Sand related operations||Prolonged exposure to Silica|
|Furnace operation||High temperature exposure|
|Material unloading from furnace||Injury to eyes from splashing, injury to body parts, injury to foot from leaking saddles and molten material spillage|
|Finishing operations||Small metal parts may injure eyes, sharp objects may affect hand and feet|
The melting step consists of melting a given metal in the furnace at high temperatures (>1000 degree C). Hazards associated in the furnace are in charging of material, melting it and taking the molten metal out of the furnace. The last one is considered to be of the highest risk. The handling of the molten metal must be undertaken in a safe manner. The operators must be inducted after proper induction training consisting of evaluation of previous experience in furnace operations, understanding layout of the factory, the product requirement and knowledge of safe operations. This calls for appraisal by the management of the operators and workers during the initial days of employment.
The management must ensure that the furnace and surrounding areas are kept free of any scrap and unwanted materials. The furnace shall be approachable from all sides as well as the path from the discharge channel to the end point should be well laid for enabling quick walking without any obstructions. This is important as it will prevent any stumbling and spillage of molten metal from the laddle on to workers’ body. During the operation of taking molten metal out of furnace, safe distance must be maintained to prevent any splashing of molten metal. The slope of the outlet channel must be gradual to ensure steady flow. There should be a small pit below the channel to hold any spillage of metal without affecting the feet of the operators.
These will ensure a safe and sustainable operation.