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HSE Guidance on Use of Emery Cloth on Lathes While Turning

Emery Cloth on Lathes and Polishing Lathes

If your business uses metalworking lathes, you need to be aware of a new guidance document from the Health and Safety Executive in the UK. Specifically, it refers to emery cloth on lathes and polishing lathes, and the tragic accidents that have occurred as a result of their use.

Emery cloth on lathes are used to deburr and polish metal as it spins, but operators sometimes use dangerous processes and risk serious injury or death. Putting items into a machine by hand carries significant risk, and many operators have broken bones or worse.

Due to the considerable risk of accident, it’s time to rethink your process and keep your workers safer, and this means discontinuing the use of emery cloths and replacing your machinery with Dynabrade alternatives.

The Dangers of Using Emery Cloth on Lathes and Polishing Lathes

Metalworkers use emery cloth on lathes and polishing lathes to polish their product. In the past, this meant wrapping cloth around the machinery as it turns, and holding the other end by hand.

This was thought to be the best way to maintain high tension against the metal being finished. But it can can result in the operator’s hand being pulled into the lathe when the emery cloth snags, or becomes entangled. This injury happens incredibly quickly, and gives the operator no chance to react before disaster occurs.

Simply wearing gloves is not an acceptable way to protect the hands, and will not prevent broken fingers or permanent damage to the arm.

Additionally, this manual process puts the operator’s body dangerously close to the machine. Operators can be at further risk if they have long hair or are wearing loose clothing, such as a baggy t-shirt. In this scenario, the risk is that a foreign object is pulled into the lathe as it spins, pulling the body towards it. Bracelets, pendants and other items of jewellery work on the hands can pose particular hazards.

To be compliant, all businesses using emery cloth on lathes or polishing lathes must carry out an immediate risk assessment. The Health and Safety Executive says that the use of these lathes should be discontinued. Your workers must use another method now. If you do not, your best option is to skip the finishing process entirely.

Fortunately, DynaShop can help. We stock two Dynabrade products that can replace these dangerous lathes safely and effectively, without affecting the quality and finish of metalwork.

Safe Dynabrade Solutions

The first solution is a Dynabrade hand held polisher. These tools have a contact arm, and the strap on the machine does the work.

The second option is a Dynabrade pipe grinder, where the tool is attached directly to the lathe. DynaShop stocks this air powered pipe grinder, which is available in .7hp, 1.2hp or 2.0hp variants.

Remember: all Dynabrade tools are imported by the USA by DynaShop. Everything is covered by a lifetime warranty to protect your safety and your investment. You can read more about Dynabrade grinders in our Ultimate Guide.

Best Practice for Using Emery Cloth on Lathes and Polishing Lathes

The Health and Safety Executive has issued an Engineering Information Sheet on using emery cloth on lathes and polishing lathes in metalwork. To summarise, it recommends the following best practice is followed:

  • Emery cloths should be immediately phased out
  • Another tool needs to be sought as a replacement; the Dynabrade tools we’ve mentioned are compliant
  • Guards and safety devices should never be disabled on computer numerically controlled (CNC) metalworking lathes
  • Everyone working with emery cloth on lathes and polishing lathes should wear full body overalls, to avoid their clothing being trapped and pulled in
  • Any operator with long hair should wear a hair net
  • Any operator wearing rings, bracelets or long necklaces should remove jewellery before working near any machine
  • If any operator is observed working in an unsafe manner, they should be stopped and retrained

Further Assistance

Emery cloth lathes and polishing lathes have proven to be incredibly hazardous to health. Even when used carefully, a tangle in the emery cloth, in one split second, is all it takes to maim the operator for life. The consequences of an accident can be life changing, with disability and death an unfortunate possible consequence of an accident.

The Health and Safety Executive does not make laws, but it’s a good idea to follow its guidance to keep your operators safe, and to ensure that your operation would pass a HSE inspection.

Until you invest in a Dynabrade solution, we recommend that you cease the use of these hazardous hand-held emery cloth techniques.

For more information on Dynabrade solutions, don’t hesitate to contact DynaShop. We can advice you on specific tasks, ensuring you get the correct tool for the job every time.

And if you need accessories, don’t forget that DynaShop stocks every single Dynabrade machine and part. Call us today for guidance, or to place a new order from our store.

Emery Cloth on Lathes