Don’t leave your employee’s safety out in the cold
Dry ice manufacturing is becoming a large part of the welding and gas industry. Those who are making it find that it can be a profitable and high-growth division of their business. Manufacturing dry ice brings some new exposures to your business that many had not previously had to address but should be aware of. Without proper programs in place, you could be exposing your employees to some pretty significant workers’ compensation claims from amputation to a major soft tissue injury.
Have you updated your safety programs to encompass your new exposures?
Safety programs recommended for an update:
- Machine Guarding
- Lockout Tagout
- Material Handling
- Personal Protective Equipment
- First Aid
- Environmental Monitoring & Ventilation
Many of these recommendations sound obvious, but good employees can make mistakes while trying to do their job faster or better. These recommendations should be strictly followed, and all employees should be properly trained, including refresher training at regular intervals.
Put simply, amputation injuries are gruesome, extremely damaging to your employees (for obvious reasons), put you in the crosshairs of OSHA and can have a very negative impact on culture. Work with a safety professional and/or the equipment manufacturer to ensure proper guarding is in place so employees cannot reach their hands in operational equipment. Blocks of ice moving through the machinery can create pinch points.
Jams often occur in equipment. DO NOT attempt to unblock a jam while the equipment is energized. Doing so puts the employee at great risk. A logout tagout procedure should be developed for all of your machines and equipment.
Blocks of dry ice can easily weigh 100+ lbs. Make sure you’ve got a material handling policy with manual lifting weight restricted to 50 lbs. or less. If 50+ lb block needs to be moved, have mechanical means available or require a team lift.
Personal Protective Equipment
Determine what’s right for your operation, but it’s customary to require gloves, eye protection, and steel toe boots.
First Aid Awareness
Train your employees on what to do if the product is inhaled, gets on skin or in the eyes. If you’re a GAWDA member, check out the “Dry Ice Sample Safety Practice / End User Guide”
Dry Ice manufacturing can be harmful to your employees. We’ve seen an increase in dry ice-related work comp injuries recently, which prompted this article. Our hope is that this creates awareness around the process and serves as a reminder to ensure your team stays safe. Our customers run family businesses, and we know they want their team to go home just as healthy as when they showed up to work. Be sure to remind your team of the dangers of dry ice. Review the risks associated with each part of the manufacturing process, including the presses, the belts that feed the machine, pinch points and the dry ice itself.
As most in the welding & gas industry know, CO2 is heavier than oxygen and can quickly build up to a point that it can kill. Ensure you have the appropriate environmental monitoring and alarm system present in your manufacturing area and plant. Also, make sure that your facility is properly ventilated. This is, of course, also important when it comes to educating customers on proper storage, transport and use. CGA put out an outstanding poster, that we recommend sharing with your customers and employees, which can be downloaded for free at their website https://www.cganet.com/dry-ice-safety/.
Even very experienced staff who have been doing this job for a long time needs to be reminded of the dangers they face working with dry ice.
We’re here to help if you have questions or would like to discuss any other safety or risk management topics.
Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.