Molten Metals - Frequently asked questions
To answer this question there are a number of things which you will need to consider such as the type of metal you work with, the processes you use and the working environment.
You will need to begin by carrying out a risk assessment for the work you carry out with molten metal. There are a number of things you should consider as part of this assessment, including:
- Is it possible to segregate operators from molten metal by effective screening?
- Is it necessary for operators to be close to a melting or casting process?
- Is there a proper system of work to ensure that the charge to a furnace is properly inspected, prepared and dried so as to prevent a water/metal explosion?
- Are moulds, ladles and implements which are used with molten metal properly dried and prepared?
- Are furnaces, ladles, transporter tracks and other key items of equipment regularly maintained and inspected to prevent their failure?
- Are floors maintained so that they are level and even?
- Are passageways and other areas where molten metals are handled kept clear of obstructions and tripping hazards?
- Is the quality of moulds and dies and any guards provided good enough to prevent unnecessary ejection or run-out of molten metal, or control it?
- Are effective precautions taken if maintenance work has to be carried out close to molten metal?
- Is the general state and repair of the foundry building adequate, ie are activities protected from the influence of weather, particularly the ingress of water?
- Are non-essential personnel excluded from the area, especially during casting/ladling
This list is not exhaustive. There will be other issues that you need to consider which may be specific to your workplace and the way you work.
If after carrying out the assessment you decide that you do need to provide molten metal protective clothing it is important to select the correct clothing (and other personal protective equipment such as eye protection).
You will need to consider:
- What type of garments you provide, eg. footwear, jackets, aprons, gauntlets, etc.
- Their design, eg to prevent molten metal being trapped in material folds, pockets etc, and to make sure they are ergonomically suitable for the wearer
- What materials they are made from
Your choice of material, or combinations of materials, depends upon how it responds to molten metal and which molten metals you use.
All molten metal clothing must be tested to make sure it provides the appropriate level of protection. Materials or fabrics suitable for molten metal splash should be marked D and E.
- Code D indicates that the garment has been tested with Molten Aluminium. A number after the letter (1 -3) indicates the level of performance achieved, with 3 being the highest performance level. Acceptable performance against molten aluminium will normally ensure that a material will be acceptable against molten aluminium-bronze and molten minerals.
- Code E indicates that the garment has been tested with Molten Iron. Again the number after the letter (1-3) indicates the level of performance achieved, with 3 being the highest performance level. Acceptable performance against molten iron will normally ensure that a material will be acceptable against molten copper, molten phosphor-bronze and molten brass.
Further information on how to select the appropriate molten metal protective clothing can be found on the molten metal protective clothing webpages.
I have an overhead crane and use it within the Foundry. What is meant by the term ‘lift plan’ and do I have to do one before I carry out every lift?
A ‘lift plan’ allows you to identify the ways in which you can eliminate or control the risks involved in a lifting operation. The degree of planning for a lifting operation should be proportional to the risk and will vary considerably depending upon the complexity of the lifting operation. The complexity will depend on the load to be lifted, the equipment to be used and the environment in which the operation is to be undertaken.
Proper planning of lifting operations is a combination of two parts:
- initial planning to ensure that lifting equipment is provided which is suitable for the range of tasks that it will have to carry out; and
- planning of individual lifting operations so that they can be carried out safely with the lifting equipment provided.
The balance between the two parts of the planning process will also vary depending upon the lifting equipment and the particular lifting operation.
For routine (basic) lifting operations an initial plan may only be required once but you may need to review it occasionally to make sure that nothing has changed and the 'plan' remains valid.
For complex lifting operations you may need to plan the task each time it is carried out.
Find out more
- HSE webpages on the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)
- HSE webpages on planning and organising lifting operations
- LOLER Approved Code of Practice and guidance
- Lifting equipment at work: A brief guide
- BS7121-1:2006 Code of practice for Safe use of cranes -Part 1 General