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Pipe Threader Safety

Hi, I'm Jill, Chief Safety Officer with Vivid Learning Systems. I'm a former OSHA Inspector, and I'm here to help you identify and correct workplace safety hazards. For this series we're at Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative in the heart of the Upper Midwest to show you no matter where you work, safety is for everyone.

Back when I was an investigator with OSHA, I seemed to find a pipe threader in nearly every place of employment. They can be dangerous with clothing or fingers being wound in them. A covered foot control called an enabling device, formerly known as a dead man or live man control, now known as an enabling device, is necessary to immediately stop the threader when your foot is taken off the control. Today we have a chance to actually see a threader, and I'm with Brian, who's an instrumentation tech here at the Beet Sugar Cooperative. Thanks for being with me today Brian.

No problem.

And so one of the things we want to point out to our audience, who's maybe looking over our shoulder, is we're in the electrical shop here and behind us is an electrical panel that is non-energized that's used for training here. So, if anybody's getting nervous behind us thinking we have live parts, we can assure our audience this is de-energized and used for training purposes here, which is a great, safe way to do training.

So, Brian, we're standing in front of a pipe threader. Can you tell our audience, in case they're not familiar with what one is, what does a pipe threader do?

A pipe threader cuts pipe, it threads pipe, it can ream the ends to remove burrs so you can cut lengths and whatever you need for the piping system you're designing or installing.

Okay, and so what sort of trades use pipe threaders?

All of our maintenance-oriented trades out here do, your electricians, instrumentation, your mechanics.

Okay, and they're using them for various reasons. You need to thread a pipe maybe because you're sending a fluid through it. What other sorts of things are pipes used for in a setting like this?

They're used for pneumatics, they're used for wiring.

Okay.

Electrical.

Okay, sure. And then when it comes to the pipe threader itself, can you explain maybe where some of the moving parts are happening, where some of the danger points might be? When I was talking earlier about fingers or clothing getting wound in them, can you maybe show how it works?

Sure. The front [shaft 00:02:38], this holds the pipe near the cutting tools. You turn the head to make it either release or close in on the pipe. The rear supports the back of the pipe, and that's the same style. You turn it to tighten it or loosen it. Your device is, this is your cutter that swings down over your pipe, and you turn it in to tighten it on the pipe to cut the pipe off. You have a reaming tool here... that you press like that, and you'll end up moving that in on a pipe to take the burr out of the inside of the pipe after cutting it. And this is your threading die, and that tightens down and you'll end up moving that in and feeding it over the pipe to install the threads on the pipe.

And so we have some of the hazards we're being mindful of is we have sharp things that can cut you, so you need to wear your gloves for certain, and then we have moving parts. And so the part that's moving, describe for our audience which parts are moving. The pipe obviously the stock, right?

The pipe will be moving and so will the front and rear holders.

Okay. And so when you're operating this, where do you position your body after you get everything set up?

After you get it set up you will feed your tools onto the pipe back here, so your hands are back on this control and your foot will run the brake or the on for the actual rotation of the pipe.

Okay, so the foot control itself is one of our main safety features here, correct?

Yeah.

And so any time you pull your foot out of there, it's going to cut the power and it's going to stop spinning?

Right, yeah.

Okay, alright. And so some of the other maybe safety things that we'd want to be mindful of are the filings or the shavings that are being produced.

Yes, they're very sharp.

They're very sharp, but they can also be hot.

Yeah.

Can they be hot? And so you want to be careful that you're not going to get that to go down your shirt or fly against your face.

Right.

So what kind of personal protective equipment do you wear when you're using a pipe threader?

You're going to want gloves, you're going to want eye protection, hearing protection.

Okay. Can it be a little loud when it's operating too?

A little bit.

A little bit loud.

They're not that bad, but it's a machine so you should be wearing hearing protection.

Sure, of course. And so our main safety feature here is really this foot control station so that should you get any piece of clothing, we don't want to operate it with loose clothing on of course, but if anything were to get entangled in that we want to be able to immediately stop that rotation from happening.

Yep. Your foot has to be in there depressing the switch in order for it to be turning.

In order for it to be turning. So you need to be, so then you're watching the work as it's happening as well?

Right.

Yeah, very good. Well, thank you so much for sharing what you have about pipe threaders. They're in lots of places of employment and not necessarily do people know that it's really a work horse of many places of employment.

Yep.

Okay, thank you so much Brian.

You're welcome.

Appreciate it. And hopefully that's helped you understand a little bit more about pipe threaders and some precautions to take for those that you have in your facility.

I hope you gained a safety skill today. If you know someone who needs this, go ahead and pass it on. Safety is everyone's business.