Please note below some of the frequently asked questions (FAQ's) relating to safety and health in the foundry industry. Should you have a question of your own, please complete the form on the contact page and your question/s will be forwarded to the SHIFT Administrator who in confidence will seek the appropriate answer direct from HSE.
Where can I get simple Guidance on Noise, Vibration and other topics?
Q: I provide my staff with the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) but at times they don't wear it when they should. They have all signed to say they have received it and know to wear it. What more can I do or should I do?"
A: This is a common question. Firstly, you have taken the correct action by ensuring the correct PPE is provided and identified when to wear it. You need to do some investigations to find out why it is not being worn, is it suitable for the working environment, comfortable to wear, compatible with other workwear etc? Seeking the opinions of those who wear it will help as will observation of the tasks.
Secondly, have you ensured that your employees understand why they have to wear it and how to wear it? Telling someone of the hazards of not wearing PPE, giving examples of the consequences of not wearing can help. If you are going to get your employees to sign for receipt then this is a good opportunity to obtain proof that they understand the use of the PPE.
Thirdly, if you have provided suitable PPE and employees are properly instructed in its use then you must take all reasonable steps to ensure it is properly used. This means setting the example and enforcement. Managers should set the example at all times and wear the correct PPE and not condone employees who fail to wear PPE appropriately. Ultimately you may need to take action to ensure that employees do not put themselves and the business at risk by not wearing PPE. If an employee consistently chooses not to wear the appropriate PPE then you should protect both the employee and the business by removing him from the hazard!
A: Yes, provided you have taken all steps to ensure their health and safety. This means ensuring that they have adequate information about the hazards and control measures, that they are properly supervised and that they are provided with the correct PPE.
The key is to keep the risks to their health and safety as low as is reasonably practicable. Therefore, avoid close contact with high risk activities such as pouring, crossing vehicle routes, access to heights etc. Often it is possible to show a visitor the foundry from a safe position such as a control room, from a suitable sited observation room or via CCTV.
A: Head protection is needed for three main reasons within the foundry; falling object protection; collision/ bumping and molten metal splash/ heat protection. For each task you will need to identify what the particular hazards are and what head protection will be required. Again the principles of suitable for the task and environment stand, for instance the some PPE may not be suitable for molten metal splash or heat.
A: Respireable silica is common within sand foundries particularly within the sand plant/ mould making area and fettling and shakeout areas. For many years it has had a maximum exposure limit (0.3mg/m3 8hr time weighted average) as there is evidence that it causes silicosis.
New evidence shows that there is a much higher risk of lung damage than previously thought and that exposures to high levels of respireable silica significantly increases the chance of lung cancer.
In 2003 HSE issued an warning of this and advice that it now considered that levels of 0.1mg/m3 8hr time weighted average should be sought. See www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/chan35.htm
Fortunately most foundries have been achieving exposure levels of below 0.1mg/m3 for several years. However, you should review your exposure monitoring records to ensure you are below the level, including during activities such as maintenance and cleaning.
HSE has issued a series of guidance notes in the COSHH Essentials series aimed at providing advice on what is practicable to do within the foundry (www.coshh-essentials.org.uk).
A: It is NOT suitable for protection against molten metal splash, when molten metal hits the mesh it does not stop penetration to the face area.
A: Numerically the biggest cause of accidents with the foundry are musculo-skeletal injury, slips/trips/falls and molten metal burns. So far as ill health hand/arm vibration, noise and silica result in the greatest number of reports.
However, frequency is not the only criteria to assess priorities, you should also consider severity. For instance falling from height and being injured by workplace transport result in fatal or major injury. Therefore, following the HSE priority topics of slips/trips; workplace transport; falls from height; musculo-skeletal injury and occupational stress with the foundry specific issues of molten metal burns, HAV, noise and silica form a good place to start.
Q: Are contractors working on gas installations in foundries required to be Gas Safe registered?
As factories are excluded from the majority of the requirements of Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations (GSUIR), there is no requirement for engineers to be Gas Safe registered for carrying out non-domestic work.
However, there is a requirement for engineers to be competent - Reg 3(1) of GSUIR: 'No person shall carry out work in reaction to a gas fitting or gas storage vessel unless he is competent to do so'.
It is the duty holders responsibility to ensure that persons coming onto their site to undertake work with gas are competent. Competence may be proven by relevant ACS, NVQ or SVQ qualifications for individuals working on site.
It is important to note that any person carrying out work in any parts of foundries used as domestic, residential or sleeping accommodation must be carried out by someone on the Gas Safe Register. Many Contractors choose to be Gas Safe registered as it allows them the flexibility to work where ever they are competent to do so.
Q: Can I use normal PPE when working around molten metal?
Molten metal carries its own very specific risks compared with other areas within he foundry and it is important to ensure that the PPE worn in this area is suitable for the task in hand. As with all PPE it must be remembered that it is designed purely for dealing with residual risks and small scale splashes of metal only.
For furnace personnel who will be working around molten metal for a large portion of their working day of for those working in manual casting operations, it is best practice to wear long length foundry boots that cover the majority of the lower leg as these offer the best levels of protection. Protective trousers should be worn over the top of the boots. Trousers should never be tucked into any boot as this produces an entrapment area for metal to settle, causing injury.
Clothing for working with molten metal should be suitably chosen and be selected for both the type of metal being used and the level of risk. Best practice has covered studs or Velcro fittings and ideally no pockets on the outside of jackets where metal may settle. The HSE has a lot of very useful simple information on molten metal protective clothing on its website. Go to www.hse.gov.uk/moltenmetals/protective-clothing/index.htm for more details.
Q: Where can I get simple Guidance on Noise, Vibration and other topics?
CHASAC is updating its guidance on a variety of topics and any published documents are listed on this website and can be accessed from the following link www.shift-initiative.org.uk/page.asp?node=78&sec=Guidance_Docs. Guidance published so far includes Noise, Vibration and load security. New documents will be uploaded to the site as they are produced.
Should you have any questions on other topics or ideas for guidance please contact the firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your needs.
Should you have a question of your own, please complete the form on the contact page and your question/s will be forwarded to the SHIFT Administrator who in confidence will seek the appropriate answer direct from HSE.