Manufacturer of Hydraulic Presses

OSHA Regulations for Machine Shops

June 29, 2015

With all the pressing, drilling, milling, polishing, cutting and welding going on, machine shops are dangerous places. That’s why the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a list of regulations that cover how to keep workers safe.

Laws at the state, county and city level also have an impact on how you run your machine shop. It can be confusing finding out what needs to be done.

Here is an overview of where you can get up-to-date information from the government and other machine shop owners and workers.

Importance of Following the Rules

Safety rules for machine shops have taken shape over the decades in response to accidents and even deaths. They make the daily grind much easier and safer for workers, visitors and owners.

If you don’t follow the safety regulations in effect in your locale, you can be fined. If an accident happens and you were not following the rules, you can be sued and fined.

Making sure your shop adheres to the regulations will help to protect your workers and your bottom line.

OSHA Rules

This agency does indeed rule over the world of safety standards in the United States. You can get an look at what their authority covers here. Their job is to set minimum standards that must be met by machine shops in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.

It is your job as a machine shop owner to find out what the rules are in your specific jurisdiction. Check with your state health and safety agency. They can provide a list of state laws and help finding other resources.

Even if you are confused about what is necessary, it is your responsibility as the owner to follow the laws. Ignorance isn’t an acceptable defense if you have an accident.

The rules that OSHA has set in place are not arranged neatly in one category called Machine Shop Regulations. Instead they are placed under various headings. To illustrate, read this letter from a machine shop owner to OSHA, asking, with innocence and trust, for a list of the regulations. Though written in 1984, the situation is the same today. The long list shows how the various rules are dispersed among many safety categories.

The Evolution of Machine Shop Best Practices

Over time, machine shops have adapted and even improved upon the safety regulations in effect. Every owner and worker wants to stay healthy on the job and avoid accidents.
You can read this overview from the University of Vermont, which breaks down the areas for safety into:

  • Identifying hazards, then controlling them
  • Documenting problems, plus solutions found and the routines that evolve
  • Training staff and keeping them up-to-date on routines, laws and shop expectations
  • Writing and implementing a plan in case of emergency

You can click on their links to find much more detailed information about specific topics.
Ohio Wesleyan University has a quick checklist that provides a handy overview for safety in a machine shop. If you want a look at a comprehensive program, here is one provided by the University of California at Riverside College of Engineering.

If you have questions you want to ask other machine shop owners, check out the forum at CNC Zone forum or the forums at Practical Machinist.
The information on the regulations in effect in your area is out there. It may take some research and asking questions, but with effort you can find it. Following the rules and regulations can have a positive impact on worker safety in your machine shop.