When considering strapping materials, steel strapping offers many benefits. Relatively low cost, it’s the best choice for securely transporting heavy, sharp-cornered and sharp-edged materials. It’s in wide use in many industries, especially in the transportation, construction, and timber industries.
Adding to its benefits, steel strapping also comes in many different types and grades, extending its uses to further applications. Steel-strapped loads can even be stored out in the open, because it’s available with coatings to protect the strap from corrosion and deterioration.
Despite its wide use and many benefits, steel strapping has a big challenge: worker safety.
When using steel strapping, safety is paramount
Unless it’s handled carefully, steel strapping’s sharp edges can cause injuries, primarily from recoil, slicing at anyone within range. However, injuries can happen even if the strap is not under tension. That makes it challenging to manage strapping: both to strap loads and to unpack them at their destination.
Hazards to avoid with steel strapping include the coils themselves. They’re a hazard if left anywhere someone could trip over them, or a vehicle could drive over them, because the strap’s edges are so sharp.
Safety comes first, so let’s look at the top safety tips for handling steel strapping.
1. Always wear safety gear when handling steel strapping
Never handle steel strapping without protective gear. Safety glasses and heavy-duty gloves are basic essentials. Your workplace may require a hard hat, protective clothing, and heavy boots as well.
Safety glasses are vital: this material is known for its recoil, whether under tension or not, so eye injuries are common. Gloves are vital too, whether you’re applying strap or are unpacking a load: the strap’s sharp edges can cut your hand before you’re aware it’s happened.
Even if a task appears simple, wear protective clothing and boots. A minute spent changing footwear can save the misery of injury.
2. Use appropriate tools for the job when applying or removing steel strapping
Do you have the right tools? Safety comes first, whether you’re applying steel strapping, or are removing it. Use the right tools—don’t attempt a job without them. Use safe practices when lifting and moving heavy steel coils.
When applying strap, follow your company’s safety guidelines. If you’re unfamiliar with a strapping machine, or it’s been a while since your training, reread the machine’s manual to get up to speed.
Take care when you’re strapping items manually too: ensure that you have the right gear to manage the grade of strap. You’ll need steel cutters, tensioners and crimpers: ensure that you’re using the right tools for the type of the steel strap with which you’re working.
When removing steel strapping, work with someone who is experienced. Use long-handled cutters made for the task and cut the strapping the right way.
Always be aware of your surroundings; keep other workers out of the range of the strap’s recoil.
3. Remember safety when handling strapped items
Although accidents happen, they can be minimized if you’re aware of the danger of mishaps, and remind others to stay clear of operations involving steel strapping.
Avoid putting your hand under steel strapping when you’re tensioning it or sealing it manually. Also, avoid lifting strapped items by their straps: the strap may snap or shift, slicing through your gloves and workwear.
It can be tempting to increase your speed with unsafe practices when strapping. Be aware however that even minor injuries will slow you down, and serious injuries are possible.
4. Avoid working with steel strapping when you’re tired
Before you begin a strapping task, assess all the tools you’ll need. Are they appropriate to the task? Check the type and grade of the strapping before you begin, as well as the tools.
It’s never a good idea to work with steel strapping when you’re tired, but you may not have a choice. Be aware that your reaction times are slower when you’re tired, so focus on what you’re doing and slow down. Clear the area of clutter, so you don’t stumble over a coil of strap, or other items left lying around.
Be rigorous about break times. Breaks are vital if you’re already tired.
5. Take special care when removing steel strapping
When you’re applying steel strapping, you know the size and weight of the items you’re strapping, as well as the grade of the strap.
However, when removing strapping from packages and loads, you can get unpleasant surprises.
Start by checking the grade of strap you’re removing, so that you’re sure you have the appropriate cutters for the grade and width of the strap. Next, check the cutters. Are they sharp? Sharpen and lubricate them if necessary before you start cutting.
Always cut steel strapping at right angles, so you avoid creating additional sharp edges. Wrap the strap or strapped item with hessian or cloth if you expect exploding metal shards.
Use these tips to stay safe when working with steel strapping
You may only need to work with steel strapping occasionally, or perhaps you work with it every day. Either way, keep safety in mind when working with this type of strap.