Plasma Cutter Safety – Possible Health Hazards and Solution

Plasma cutters utilize extremely hot, ionized gas to slice through various materials. They are more efficient than traditional oxy-acetylene torches, saws, and cutting snips. This type of tool requires careful handling. Adhering to certain safety measures is crucial for the well-being of both you and those around you.


General Precautions

  • Make sure no unauthorized personnel use a plasma arc cutter. Even if they are given permission, they should be supervised by someone suitable.
  • Keep fire extinguishers at your disposal. Make sure they are functional as well.
  • Keep a good amount of distance between you and the cutting area, even more so if the work material is flammable
  • Warn nearby personnel before using the plasma cutter. Anyone nearby should also wear protective gear.


Personal Protective Gear


Keeping yourself protected from rays and debris is essential. You might get exposed to fumes, high molten metal, and other harmful elements when using plasma cutter equipment. Anyone using the plasma cutter or near the area should wear protective gear to avoid any serious accident.

Plasma cutters radiate intense bright lights along with an array of ultraviolet and infrared lights. These can have an adverse effect on our health if we are exposed to them. Our skin and eyes are especially sensitive to these. So it’s important to wear protective clothing when the equipment is in use. The gear includes:

  • Protective glasses with side shield
  • Face shield or helmet cooperatively with the safety glasses
  • Flame-resistant welding clothing and apron
  • Non-flammable welding gloves
  • Earplugs or earmuffs
  • Respiratory mask

Anyone without protective gear will be liable to severe harm.



Avoiding Electrocution


Plasma arc cutters usually have a safety mechanism that disables the machine if the electrode comes in touch with the tip or if the shield cap is loosened. But plasma cutter does require high voltages to function. Being exposed to live electrical circuits can cause severe burns and deadly shocks. The cables should be inspected for bare spots and poor connections regularly. Worn or damaged cables should be replaced, not repaired.

Working in wet environments is a massive health hazard. Keep your stance on dry surfaces like a rubber mat or plywood sheet. But be careful cause both of them are flammable.

Operators have to inspect the plasma cutting equipment and ground connections routinely. Proper grounding is essential. Maintain the OSHA standards and follow the National Electrical Code. Always double-check the cables and grounding connections.



Proper Ventilation


Fumes and gases generated from welding can be severely deteriorating to your health. Cutting any sort of metal exhaust fumes that you shouldn’t breathe. Try to work inside a well-ventilated confined room. Alternatively, wear respirators for cleaner air.

According to Material Safety Data, cutting coated metal like lead or galvanized steel with plasma cutters produces toxic fumes. Use a suction system or exhaust hoods to ensure proper ventilation.



Fire Hazards


Cutting metals with plasma cutters gives off sparks and hot metal. It produces a lot of heat in the workplace, which can potentially cause burns. Wear fireproof clothing to prevent any severe burns. Tightly woven fabric works as well. Make sure there’s nothing flammable in your pockets like matches or lighters.

Plasma cutters can easily cut through skin and gloves. When pressing the trigger, stay away from the cutter’s torch tip.

Anything flammable should be kept 35 feet away, at least. Check for cracks or openings on the flame-proof covers. Avoid cutting containers that contain reactive elements. A single spark can ignite combustible material that can cause serious damage.

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