Industrial Fan Safety

Posted by Melissa Hall in #YHSafetyTips, Jul 03, 2019

Often used in warehouses or distribution centers, industrial fans help make workplaces safer and more comfortable for employees by cutting down on humidity, removing fumes and orders, and improving overall air quality. To prevent unnecessary injuries, it is important to ensure that industrial fans are installed properly and that safety measures are in place.

Below we outline five common hazards that may occur when using industrial fans in your facility.

  1. Rotating Fan Blades
  2. The highest risk of injury with industrial fans comes from close or direct contact with the fan’s blades. Hazards from close contact with the fan blades includes exposure to blowing dust or dirt and high-speed airflow that causes you to lose your balance and fall. These hazards can be prevented using industrial ceiling fans that are mounted above employees and fans that output airflow at high volume but rotate at low speeds.

  3. Debris Entering and Exiting the Fan
  4. Floor fans or industrial blowers that are placed on or near the ground are at risk for objects entering the path of the fan blade. These objects may fly out of the fan and become a projectile that can cause injuries for those close to the fan. Mounting fans on the ceiling or far away from material or debris can limit these hazards.

  5. Hot Fan Motor Surface
  6. Fan motors retain heat for extended periods causing risks of burns if you accidentally come in contact with the fan. Let the unit cool for an extended period of time before working on the fan motor.

  7. Fan Blade Failure & Loose Parts or Damage
  8. Fan blades and other components inside a fan can malfunction. Industrial fans should be maintained as well as inspected thoroughly before using it for the first time.

    During an inspection:

    1. Look for loose or missing components and damage
    2. Listen for any unusual noises, squeaks, squeals, hum, or rubbing
    3. Make sure the blade does not contact any part of the spinning area – If it does, correct the problem immediately and do not run the fan until it is fixed
    4. Look for blade wobble or tracking problems
    5. Correct all problems before starting the fan

  9. Guards
  10. Guards are designed to protect workers from direct contact with the blades, motor, and other moving components of industrial fans. Guards should be in good shape and properly secured to the fan housing so they do not fall into the fan. Guards should not contain sharp edges and operators should exercise caution and wear gloves when removing guards.

    OSHA1910.212 outlines the required use of guards:

    1910.212(a)(3)(ii) The point of operation of machines whose operation exposes an employee to injury, shall be guarded. The guarding device shall be in conformity with any appropriate standards, therefore, or, in the absence of applicable specific standards, shall be so designed and constructed as to prevent the operator from having any part of his body in the danger zone during the operating cycle.

    1910.212(a)(5) Exposure of blades. When the periphery of the blades of a fan is less than seven (7) feet above the floor or working level, the blades shall be guarded. The guard shall have openings no larger than one-half (1/2) inch.

With proper installation and maintenance, industrial fans pose no threat to the safety of your employees and help improve the overall environment of your workplace.

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