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Safety Tips for CNC Machinists

Jul 19, 2021 ·

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Computer numerical control (CNC) machinists are responsible for working with heavy-duty machinery to produce a range of parts and components from raw materials. They’re trained to operate machines that perform a range of functions, including grinding, cutting and drilling.

Individuals working in these roles must be able to set up the machines properly and operate them correctly to produce high-quality results. Given the range of functionality of this equipment, it’s important that CNC machinists are being as safe as possible.

There are many safety tips and guidelines that should be followed when working with CNC machines. Keep reading to find out more about what they are.

CNC Machining Safety

CNC machines can come in a range of shapes and sizes, combining mechanics and technology to produce durable parts used in many industries.

Whether it’s a lathe or mill combined with a computer system, it’s important that a trained machinist is operating it and paying attention to different do’s and don’ts for CNC machines.

Many of these safety tips come from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which requires employers to keep a workplace free from serious hazards and exposure to moving machine parts that could cause serious injuries.

While there are many safeguards in place thanks to OSHA regulations, there is still a level of personal responsibility involved when it comes to operating CNC machines. Some things to keep in mind include:

Keep Doors Closed

It’s important to allow a machine’s cycle to complete before opening any compartments and working with different parts. Opening the hood of a machine before it completely stops can be very dangerous.

While many machines include safety interlocks to prevent this, it’s important that barriers and warning signs are put into place for those that don’t.

CNC machines feature “home” positions that they return to before they start another cycle, so machinists must be aware of what these are before operating the machines. Allowing the machine to return to this position and powering it off is necessary before reaching into it.

It’s also important to not leave the doors open to watch parts when the machine is running. Parts can fall off the spindle, and chips and sparks can fly out from tools that are in operation.

Wear Protective Gear

It’s important to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when operating any kind of CNC machine, since they have rotating parts. One of the main items of protection that should always be worn is machinist safety glasses.

Image credit: ACCURL Machine Tools

CNC gloves are another piece of PPE that should be worn when operating these machines, as they can help prevent the risk of cuts or abrasions to the hands.

Depending on where you’re working, a hard hat might make sense to wear, as well as hearing protection if the environment is particularly loud. Appropriate footwear, such as steel-toe shoes or work boots, should also be worn.

Use Proper Tools

It might be tempting when working with CNC machines to use inexpensive tools to save money, but it’s important not to alter tools or work with ones that aren’t suited for the specific machine’s functions. When tools are altered, they increase the risk of breaks to the enclosures in the machine.

Also, be sure to check your tools for chips and cracks, and ensure they aren’t blunt.

Clean Machines

A key component of machine shop safety comes with the maintenance and cleaning of the CNC machines. Having a clean machine can help it run longer and help it produce higher-quality parts.

Neglecting cleanings could not only damage the CNC machine, it could increase the risk of injury. Following a regular maintenance schedule can help reduce the risk of cuts and burns.

Be Familiar With the Machines

It’s important to only operate CNC machines that you have been trained to use. If there’s something you haven’t worked with before, it’s best to leave it to those with hands-on training and experience.

Attending a CNC machining program at a trade school like NASCAR Technical Institute can help prepare you for a career in the industry, as well as give you the knowledge you need to operate a range of equipment.1

Learn How to Operate CNC Machines Safely With Training at NASCAR Tech

Getting the right education is important to be able to operate CNC machines safely and effectively. The 36-week CNC Machining Technology program offered at NASCAR Tech in Mooresville, North Carolina, can help you get the experience you need.

Courses in the program cover a range of topics, including equipment setup and machine maintenance. Knowledge gained from these can be applied to the field after graduation.

Interested in pursuing a hands-on career in a growing field? Request more information today to find out more about the CNC program and to get in touch with an Admissions Representative.

NASCAR Technical Institute Campuses That Offer CNC Training

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1) NASCAR Technical Institute is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


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