Primary Metals (Smelters, Foundries, Primary Metal Mills, Metal Casting)

Worker wearing gloves and a supplied-air respirator and other protective clothing uses a long scraping tool in a foundry near molten metal. Caption: Proper selection of personal protective equipment (PPE) begins with a full evaluation of the routine and infrequent hazards employees could face.In Washington State, a worker in the Primary Metals Industry can be severely burned by molten metal, struck by heavy equipment, sickened by exposure to silica dust, or lose hearing from loud noise. Some of the other hazards these workers face can even lead to death. Proper safety measures are needed to protect workers from these hazards and keep them from getting hurt or sick.

Workplaces that make basic metal products from ore, pig metal, and scrap recovered from primary metal processes fall within the Primary Metals Industry. Businesses in this industry use a variety of processes to melt, refine, and shape steel, aluminum, lead, copper, zinc, and alloys into ingots, wire, nails, pipes, sheets, and other basic forms.

Other serious hazards associated with the processes used in this industry include:

  • low-level radiation
  • airborne metal and silica particles
  • contact with corrosive chemicals
  • dangerous gases, vapors, fumes and dusts
  • heavy lifting, high-force pushing or pulling, repetitive motion during use of hand tools
  • contact with molten metal
  • hot working conditions
  • slips, trips and falls
  • moving parts on machinery and equipment that can cut, crush, impale, or strike individuals
  • noise and vibration due to machinery and equipment

The links on these pages can help employers and workers find and fix hazards in order to keep everyone safe and working.

More help from L&I

For general information, call 1-800-423-7233.

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