Working safely may get old—
but so do those who practice it.
The top two considerations in the design of Framing Tech’s selection of aluminum enclosures are practicality and safety. In both industrial and laboratory environments, these enclosures are practical for a number of reasons, all related to their base construction with aluminum. The basic properties of aluminum make this metal an excellent choice for numerous applications in factories and labs: it is lightweight, strong, and durable, with high thermal conductivity and excellent corrosion-resistance. It is highly malleable, and can be easily cast, machined, and formed. It is also non-magnetic and non-sparking.
By definition, an enclosure is any structure that holds a person or thing inside, or keeps a person or thing from entering. It follows, then, that the primary purpose of such a structure in an industrial or laboratory environment is to ensure the physical safety of the person or thing either outside the structure or inside. One could consider this purpose, therefore, as not just practical but downright critical.
Industrial Dangers Lurk Everywhere
Factory machinery can cause some of the most serious injuries, amputations, and even deaths in the workplace. In its “Introduction to Machine Guarding,” the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) notes that:
Moving machine parts have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries, such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, or blindness. Safeguards are essential for protecting workers from these preventable injuries. Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded.
The hazards of unguarded machinery include:
- Ingoing nip points
- Rotating parts
- Reciprocating motions
- Flying Chips
To illustrate these hazards, this safety video focuses on machine guarding, one of OSHA’s most cited standards:
In a similar fashion, laboratory hazards can include most of the above, as well as:
- Poisonous chemicals
- Toxic Fumes
- Corrosive substances
- Disease vectors
- Extreme heat or cold
According to OSHA’s Laboratory Safety Guidance manual:
The laboratory environment can be a hazardous place to work. Laboratory workers are exposed to numerous potential hazards including chemical, biological, physical and radioactive hazards, as well as musculoskeletal stresses. Laboratory safety is governed by numerous local, state and federal regulations. Over the years, OSHA has promulgated rules and published guidance to make laboratories increasingly safe for personnel.
Guarding the Worker with Aluminum Enclosures
A machine or process is not considered guarded by OSHA if a worker can easily reach around, over, under, or through a guard or enclosure. If a guard or enclosure fails in any of those directions, the machine or process is not considered to be guarded, and the operator can suffer serious injury.
All machines and processes consist of three fundamental parts that need to be considered when complying with the OSHA machine guarding standard:
- The point of operation is where work is performed on material, such as cutting, shaping or boring.
- The power transmission device is any part of the mechanical system that transmits energy to the part of the machine performing the work. These include flywheels, pulleys, belts, chains, and gears.
- The operating controls, which can be electrical or mechanical, must be on every machine and make it possible for the operator to cut off the power without leaving their position at the point of operation.
Framing Tech’s aluminum enclosures take all these aspects into consideration in their design.
Types of Aluminum Enclosures
Framing Tech’s standard or custom aluminum enclosures fall into several categories:
Small Tabletop Enclosures
Employees in laboratories and other workplaces replete with hazardous materials can be safeguarded with small enclosures to prevent contact with harmful elements like disease agents, asbestos, flammable chemicals, steam, fire, and exposed electrical wiring.
Perimeter Fencing Enclosures
For larger spaces, perimeter fencing is an efficient and convenient guarding system. Framing Tech’s two-door enclosure provides a convenient solution in spaces where sounds or fumes need to be contained. This large enclosure is perfect for a quick pop-up room. It can easily be integrated into an office, manufacturing, or commercial environment.
Machine Guarding Enclosures
Processes in a factory setting that involve cutting, shearing, bending, or punching are especially hazardous, and so it is often necessary to block off the immediate space around the machinery. Even seemingly harmless slow-rotating shafts can be dangerous. If an operator’s clothing gets caught, it can pull a hand or arm into the apparatus, leading to the loss of a limb.
Additional Options for Aluminum Enclosures
As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, the primary metal used in our aluminum enclosures is hard to beat for versatility within an industrial or laboratory environment. The outside paneling and other accessories—whether plastic, metal mesh, aluminum composite, laser-safe panels, acoustic panels, or other specialty options—should likewise be chosen for compatibility with the process to be performed inside the enclosure.
Contact us for guidance in choosing the right aluminum enclosure for your business!