Foundry Hazards

Blog

20 February, 2019

Foundry Hazards and How to Control Them

To help mitigate foundry hazards, everything about a foundry is designed to minimize possible risks associated with melting and transporting metal. A foundry is a factory where castings are produced by melting metal, pouring liquid metal into a mold, then allowing it to solidify. Ideally, casting is used as a method of production where no other method would work.

The system works by having the desired metal put into a furnace for melting. It is then poured into a mould that has hollows and patterns similar to the final product. The molten metal is then allowed to cool and solidify forming the desired item. Foundries don’t just produce metal products for engine, railroad, or pipe components. They also form components for machines that are required to make many of the essential consumer products we depend on.

Main Foundry Hazards

A foundry is inherently hazardous. Its primary activity is melting metal, and the violent and unpredictable nature of chemical reactions at extreme high temperatures demand foundry safety procedures that are equally intense. Everything about a foundry is designed to minimize the risks associated with melting and transporting metal.

The main health risks that can be encountered in a foundry are:

Electromagnetic radiation

Workers who have implants or metallic body parts should avoid the furnace because there is a likelihood of the metallic objects in their bodies getting charged from the burning metal.

Vision problems

Coming into close contact with the metals, especially around furnace, could lead to serious eye problems such as cataracts due to interaction with ultraviolet rays from the metals.

Metal splashes

At times there can be faults in the production process, such that metal is placed in the furnace when wet. Wet metals can lead to explosions that can cause burns to employees working in the foundry.

Injuries

Accidents can occur anywhere and a foundry is obviously no exception. Accidents such as metal spills or even workers falling into the furnace are unfortunately not rare.
 
IMG 5571 - Foundry Hazards

Safety Precautions to Take Into Consideration

Protective clothing

Everyone working in a metal casting industry should wear protective glasses to protect them from infrared rays. Also, a helmet, overalls, gloves and shoes that are fireproof. It is also upon workers to ensure they do not wear any synthetic clothing including inner garments. The administration of any foundry should also provide employees with a face mask to prevent them from inhaling any harmful fumes.

Do not walk backwards

Workers and operators must ensure to not walk backwards, especially when carrying any load. This is to prevent from stumbling and falling into, or close to, hot metals that can put a life at risk.

Proper ventilation

Any foundry should have proper ventilation to ensure that harmful fumes do not fill the factory and cause respiratory illnesses to employees. A properly ventilated factory will allow the gases to escape into the air.

Avoid moisture within the furnace

Wet metals can lead to explosions in the furnace causing burns, and other injuries, to employees. Therefore, there should be an engineer specifically designated to check that metals are dry before they are put into the furnace.

The Importance of Using a Proper Lifting Hook

Another must-have item to avoid foundry hazards, and in this case directly associated to the production process, is a proper lifting hook to lift and transport the ladles. Most ladles have oversized lifting points which represent a loading problem with traditional lifting hooks. They are a safety and security headache for operators and technicians as any hook would need to be manually engaged (and released) from the lifting point.

The NEO20 lifting hook’s geometry, and its fail-safe design allows to remotely engage the lifting point of the foundry ladle via remote control, avoiding the need of any person to be dangerously close to the ladle and/or melting furnace. Another important issue at hand during the production process is the high temperatures and radiated heat. The NEO20, with its high-strength steel body, and all of its components, like the high-capacity battery need to withstand extended working temperature ranges and radiated heat during the “tapping” process.

Lastly, once the ladle pours the molten metal into the mold cavity, the remaining liquid is emptied and the ladle is returned. Once again, the ladle is released remotely, via remote control, keeping operators at a safe distance.

Get a glimpse on hot the NEO20 lifting hook can improve the production proces in foundries with the following video.