When you have a heavy load, you want to use steel strapping. With the highest tensile break strength of any strapping material, steel is your best bet for even the heaviest of materials and pallets.
For some strapping jobs, different material will do the trick. There will always be times when steel is the absolute best choice.
When only steel will do, you want to be prepared to handle it the right way. This guide will help you stay safe every time you use steel strapping at your workplace.
Use the Right Protective Gear
Whenever you have to handle steel, you should be sure you have the right protective equipment. It doesn’t matter if you’re strapping down the load or unpacking it at the other end.
If you must handle metal straps, be sure to wear gloves. Steel can have sharp edges, which can cause cuts. While most of these injuries will be small, they could be more serious.
Even the smallest of injuries can lead to bigger complications. They also slow you down on the job. You’ll need to stop what you’re doing and clean and wrap the wound.
Gloves can protect your hands. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants can protect your arms and legs as well.
You’ll also want to be sure to protect your eyes. Steel strapping is known for causing eye injuries, particular when it’s cut loose.
To protect your eyes, always use safety glasses. A hard hat and safety shoes are also recommended since you could be hit with a cut band as it recoils.
Use the Right Steel Strapping Tools
Working with metal strapping also means using specialized tools for the task. If you’re cutting straps off a load, you’ll want to be sure you’re using the right kind of cutters.
Duck-billed shears with long handles are usually recommended for cutting straps. The length of the handles helps create more space between you and the strap. If it springs back after being cut, you have a better chance of avoiding it.
When you cut, be sure to make a square cut. You don’t want to create sharp edges on the ends of the cut steel strapping. If the cut strap springs back, these sharp edges could cut you.
They also pose a danger to you and your co-workers as you dispose of used steel straps.
The right steel strapping tool can also make the job of tensioning and sealing easier. Again, using the tools specifically designed for the job helps keep you safe. It also improves your efficiency and makes your job easier.
Using the wrong tools can not only make your job harder but often leads to injury as well. If you don’t have the right equipment, you shouldn’t attempt the job.
Keep Your Distance
Another key component of staying safe when handling this kind of strap is to keep your distance. As mentioned, metal strapping can spring back, especially if you cut while it’s under tension.
Start by cutting the strap furthest away from you, then work your way in. If you’re cutting horizontal strapping, stand against the strapped item. Make a cut to your right, which will allow the strapping to rebound further to the right, avoiding you.
If the straps have been tensioned vertically, stand off to the side. Hold the strapping against the item, then cut beneath where you’re holding.
Ask your co-workers and other observers to stay well back. A stray piece of strapping could strike them, causing injury.
Clean and Clear Workspaces
Tidy workspaces also contribute to safety when you work with metal strapping. Keeping the area around where you’re cutting or strapping clear is important. A cluttered workplace could contribute to injuries.
Be sure to clean up as you go. If you have to cut strapping, be sure to dispose of it the right way. Don’t leave straps lying around for your co-workers to clean up.
This reduces the risk of injury by clearing the area of potential hazards immediately. A strap on the floor could cut someone if they step on it or pick it up from the wrong angle. Someone could also trip over it.
Make sure you clean up all scraps too.
Work Smart and Avoid Fatigue
Fatigue is one contributor to workplace injuries. Strapping uploads and cutting them open can be tiring too.
Mental alertness plays a role in keeping you safe when you handle steel strapping. Before you cut, always assess the task at hand:
- Consider what may happen when you cut the straps. If the load is under pressure, it may spring free. Bundles of lumber or piping may roll apart.
- Assess the safest place to start cutting. Use the tips about positioning above, and start with the strap furthest from you.
- Check the tension on the strap. The more tension it’s under, the more likely it is to rebound.
- Check for other hazards. Are there people nearby who may be hurt? Is the area clear?
- Make sure you have all your protective gear and the right tools.
Being able to go through this mental checklist before you start cutting is key to staying safe. If you’re feeling fatigued, you may forget a step and start cutting when it’s not safe.
Be sure to take breaks, which can help limit the fatigue you experience. You may have a lot to get done, but you’ll accomplish more by staying safe on the floor.
Pick the Right Strapping for the Job
Steel strapping was once the go-to for every load, pallet, and bundle. There are more choices today, but steel is often still the right material. Some strapping jobs simply demand their strength and durability.
You should always be prepared to handle steel, and with these tips, you will be.
Are you looking for more information about using steel as a strapping material? Check out our blog for more safety tips and advice on how to choose the right material for the job.