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3 Laser Cutting Safety Tips for Owners of Fabrication Workshops

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Laser cutting has become an indispensable application due to its versatility and simplicity in cutting through different materials such as metal, wood and plastic. CNC laser cutting devices are often automated to increase the speed of production, thereby enabling users to deliver finished products to clients as quickly as possible. Bottom line aside, the astonishing speed at which a laser machine works can be a potential danger to the operator or any other person in the workshop if caution is thrown to the wind. Here are some essential safety tips for proprietors of fabrication workshops that have the laser cutting technology.

Personal Protective Gear -- Laser machines cut through wood, metal or plastic by vaporising, burning or melting the target surface using a laser beam. The danger of this beam is the risk of damage to the skin and eyes. For example, the near-infrared and visible lasers can affect the operator's retina, especially after long-term exposure. Moreover, carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers that fall under the far-infrared category can be detrimental to the human corneal area of the eye.

As such, ensure that all operators of laser cutting devices have protective eye wear that adheres to the respective density and wavelength of the laser beam. The gear can mitigate the risk of blindness among laser machine operators. Seek professional help on the required protective eye wear for every laser application in the workshop.

Filtration of Contaminants -- Cutting through materials can lead to the production of strong, gaseous pollutants, which are a health hazard to workers. Therefore, it is recommended that you install a filtration system for fumes and dust to minimise personal exposure to these hazardous contaminants. Also, have an air filter fitted for trapping noxious gases and vapour. Moreover, the filtration systems should be replaced from time to time according to specifications in the operation manual.  

Another safety tip is to check that operators wear industry-recommended personal protective equipment such as face masks and aprons. 

Fire Hazard -- When laser beams encounter incendiary materials, there is a high likelihood that such materials can easily ignite, causing a massive fire that could engulf the entire workshop. Moreover, high temperatures generated during the laser cutting process can spark a fire. Lives and property could be lost in case of such a fire incident.

Therefore, flammable materials should be kept as far away from the laser equipment as possible. Have an expert inspect the ventilation system in case there are any clogs. Another precautionary safety tip is to have a working fire extinguisher at the work site all the time.