Plasma Cutting Safety Makes Sense
Like a hot butter knife, a plasma cutting machine cuts electrically conductive metal faster than conventional cutting methods such as saws, scissors, or flame torches. Although this technology has been around for more than 50 years, the introduction of small, portable (up to 50 pounds) and affordable machines in the mid-1990s led to a phenomenal increase in the use of the best plasma cutters. Many artists, farmers, carpenters, do-it-yourselfers, repairers, maintenance workers, and metalworkers use this technology regularly.
However, due to its novelty, many people do not know the correct safety procedures for plasma cutting. Fortunately, it is not easy to learn basic safety procedures.
The plasma cutting arc emits sparks and hot metal, especially during the initial cutting of the metal. It also heats the workpiece and cutting torch, which can cause burns and burns. When cutting plasma, wear approved goggles with side shields to protect your eyes. For greater protection, wear a mask or helmet with safety goggles.
Always wear dry, undamaged, non-flammable clothing and gloves to protect your body from sparks and hot metal. Clothes made of well-woven materials, such as leather, wool or heavy denim, are fine. Collars, cuffs and front button pockets to prevent sparking. Do not store matches or butane lighters in the bag. Avoid knitted pants because crickets can ignite sparks. High leather boots or shoes offer the best foot protection.
An extremely hot and strong plasma arc can quickly cut through gloves and skin. To prevent injury, do not touch the material near the cutting path. The fan arc can also cause burns. When pressing the shutter button, move away from the burner point. When starting the arc, point the torch from the body to the workpiece.
Plasma torches are usually equipped with safety interlock systems that stop the machine when the operator releases the protective cover or when the tip strikes the electrode in the nozzle. However, plasma arc cutting requires higher voltages than welding – usually 110 to 400 VDC – to initiate and maintain the arc, and contact with live electrical components can result in fatal shocks or severe burns. Poor connections and bare places on cables increase the risk of electric shock. Inspect these components daily and replace worn cables or damaged connections, do not repair them.
Because water is an excellent conductor of electricity, avoid humid working conditions (body sweat can also reduce the body’s resistance to electric shock). Isolate yourself from the work and floor by standing on a dry rubber mat or plywood large enough to cover any contact area with the work or floor. Be careful, as rubber and wood can ignite. If you find a dry non-flammable material on which you can rest (between you and the floor), use it.
Dim the lights
The arc rays produce intense rays of visible and invisible light (ultraviolet and infrared) that can burn the eyes and skin. Appropriate clothing protects your skin, but your eyes need additional protection from a face mask or goggles with a suitable lens cap. To determine the correct lens color, check the machine current and then follow Figure 1 (see ANSI Z49.1 for tone numbers used in plasma cutting above 80 amps). Install and maintain approved screens and barriers, if available, to protect others from lightning and glare. Warn the observer before starting the plasma arc.
Clean the air
Cutting metals generates vapors and gases, and breathing can be harmful. Protect your head from fumes and do not breathe. (Note: Hold the head on the side of the torch for a better view of the cutting arc. Do not look directly at the head.) Only work in confined spaces if it is well ventilated or has an air mask and meets other ANSI requirements.
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