How to Avoid Accidents When Using Oxy-Fuel Cutters
Many fabricators use oxy-fuel torches when cutting sheet metal. However, great care must be exercised when using this cutting equipment because the oxygen used may easily ignite if it encounters a flame or a hot surface. This article discusses some precautions that inexperienced hobbyists should keep in mind when using an oxy-fuel cutter when cutting a sheet of metal during a DIY project.
Check for Leaks
It is a good idea to check your oxy-fuel cutting equipment for leaks before you start using it. For instance, you should perform a bubble-leak test on the gas hoses and connections before you use the cutting equipment. The bubble test involves wetting the hoses with soapy water and then observing for bubbles on the surface of the hoses. Any visible bubbles indicate a leak at that point. Repair the leak before proceeding to use the equipment.
Choose the Right Cutting Tip
Oxy-fuel torches use a variety of cutting tips. Make sure that you select the cutting tip that is recommended for the particular fuel gas that you are using for that cutting project. Using the wrong cutting tip can result in an explosion because the mismatched cutting tip may be unable to allow the oxygen/fuel mixture to flow freely through a nozzle that is too small for the dense fuel gas.
Use Flashback Arresters
Flashback arresters can be installed at the gas cylinder, at the hose or on the torch. These devices help to prevent oxygen or fuel gas from flowing backwards during sheet metal cutting operations. Such back-flowing gas can easily trigger an explosion because it may be hot. The arresters, therefore, reduce the likelihood of an accident that can occur if the hot gas flows backwards into the regulator or pressurised gas cylinder.
Be very careful about the presence of contaminants near the oxy-fuel metal cutting equipment. Any grease, oil or petroleum products can become flammable when they mix with pure oxygen. You should therefore make sure that the oxy-fuel equipment is spotlessly clean at all times. You should also fasten the equipment onto a wall or any other surface so that you protect that equipment from being bumped over accidentally.
The presence of potentially dangerous gases, such as pure oxygen, in your fabrication shop does not mean that accidents will inevitably occur. Use the precautions above to reduce the likelihood of a safety hazard or accident as you engage in sheet metal cutting using an oxy-fuel torch.