Waterjet cutting is relatively safe compared to other cutting technologies, but it still comes with its own set of hazards and special safety practices. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind when working with waterjets:
Eyes, ears and fingers. Waterjet cutting doesn’t present the same problems as welding and forming, but that doesn’t mean you should be any less careful working with the equipment. While it is generally hard to get your fingers under the actual waterjet stream, you can cut yourself on any of the slats used for holding materials during the jet cutting process. These slats often do not get cleaned as regularly and can create a perfect environment for dangerous bacteria to grow. Do yourself a favor and practice waterjet safety by wearing protective gloves whenever you are removing or loading a new piece onto the machine.
When cutting on a waterjet machine it is also important to wear protective goggles and head wear. If you’re used to the sounds that a jet cutter makes, you might not realize how loud they actually are. Believe it or not, these machines do their work at speeds faster than sound can travel, which can damage your ear drums if you are not taking the proper safety precautions.
Familiarize yourself with the motion controls. A waterjet machine running at full speed can cover as much ground as 100 inches per minute. That’s surprisingly fast and the equivalent of trying to play a game of tag with a hungry cheetah. Keep your hands away from the machine whenever it is operating. If things aren’t cutting the way you would like them to, it is okay to stop and re-inspect everything. It is better to get something done a bit slower than to get hurt and not finish a job at all.
Additional things to keep in mind. If you are getting ready to work with a waterjet cutter, make sure your environment is supportive of what you are doing. Is the equipment you are going to use labeled with the proper safety precautions and instructions? If not, step away! Are you following all of your company’s procedures and protocols? If it has been a while since you’ve reviewed them, now would be a great time to do so.
Waterjet cutting can be a fun job, but if you are not careful it can come with a cost. Always do your homework before utilizing new machinery and make sure you are following the correct waterjet safety precautions at all times. Good luck, and have a blast!