Industrial sewing machines are powerful pieces of equipment that are much faster and more complex than domestic sewing machines. Therefore they require operating by trained and skilled workers in controlled environments.
They have a number of safety features to minimise the risk of accidents and injuries. There are also a number of workplace protocols to safeguard workers and prolong the lifespan of the machines. Here is an overview of industrial sewing machine safety.
Risks and hazards
When operating a machine, identified hazards include cuts and injuries from sharp edges; finger and hand injuries from needles; burns and electrocution; eye injuries; back injuries caused by poor posture or improper lifting techniques; and eye strain from inadequate lighting.
Modern sewing machines have speed controls so that the speed of the machine can be matched to the requirements of the task, making them safer and more efficient to use. They are equipped with thread trimmers for ease of use and also to minimise the need to use sharp cutting tools.
Industrial sewing machines should not be operated by anyone without proper training in the correct use of the machine. Furthermore, all operations should be overseen by a suitably qualified person. The machine should be checked for safe electrical connections before it is switched on at the mains, and it should be correctly adjusted for the intended sewing activity.
Personal safety precautions
Machines should only be operated by one person at a time, and should not be touched by another person when in use. Operators should tie long hair back and avoid wearing loose clothing that could get caught in the machine. If any adjustments need to be made to the machine, the operator should turn off the power first.
Operators should wear personal protective equipment including safety glasses to protect eyes from flying debris, and it may be necessary to wear gloves and ear protection depending on the conditions. A risk assessment should be carried out to ensure that the right PPE is used.
Lighting should be adequate to allow for safe threading and avoid eyestrain. Seating should allow for good posture and ease of movement. The workplace should be well ventilated to keep it clear of excessive dust and fumes.
The machines should be inspected and routine maintenance tasks should be carried out to keep them in good working order. Needles should be replaced when they become worn and the moving parts of the machine should keep clean and well oiled. When not in use, the machine should be covered to protect it from dust.