The work-related risks in the glass manufacturing industry are nearly unrivaled. IRD Glass manufacturers precision glass components with virtually every kind of optical glass as well as many crystal materials. Because we perform machining, polishing, grinding, sawing/dicing, lapping, and custom optical coatings in house, our facility is home to numerous state-of-the-art pieces of equipment and many different chemical processes. This allows us to do amazing things with precision glass components, crystals and ceramics, but it also creates myriad safety concerns that must be dealt with. Safety precautions must be taken extremely seriously to keep our employees safe. Here are some basic safety concerns when working with glass.
Fine particulates are a constant when working with precision glass components, and failure to adequately address them can cause silicosis and other respiratory problems. Grit and enamel, grinding and polishing agents, smoke and other metallic fumes and vapors all create a need for either simple safety masks or for respirators to protect our employees’ lungs.
Glass and other crystals that are being melted at extremely high temperatures release numerous noxious gasses and vapors. To reduce the level of exposure on a group level, it’s important to ventilate the work area with “dilution ventilation.” Dilution ventilation dilutes the gasses and vapors in the work area by drawing them away from workers with a steady stream of air that is then expelled.
For our glass engineers providing optical coatings in our evaporation chamber, sputtering chamber or vacuum chamber, a more advanced ventilation system as well as personal respirators are required. Coatings include metallic, broadband, polarizing, HLDT and more.
Ultraviolet and Infrared Rays
Aside from releasing gasses and vapors, melting glass also releases ultraviolet (UV) and infrared radiation (IR).
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is dangerous because it gives no obvious warning signs. It can damage the skin with erythema and cause photokeratitis, a painful inflammation of the eye. Chronic exposure to UV radiation can cause cataracts.
Infrared radiation, or IR, is electromagnetic radiation in the range between visible light and microwaves. Unlike UV rays, it can be felt as heat. Sources of infrared radiation include lasers, casting pouring, furnace operations as well as the curing of coatings. Cataracts are the primary risk of prolonged IR exposure. In fact, cataracts used to be so common for those working with glass that it was called “glass blower’s cataracts”
Our facility has numerous pieces of high-tech equipment, including:
- Matsura CNC VMC
- OMAX CNC Waterjet
- LapMaster SS Diamond Lapper 36″
- Speedfam 16B DS Lapper
- Strasbaugh CP Diamond 30”
Our employees are well-versed in the hazards posed by these amazing machines and understand the maintenance and safety procedures required to avoid injury.
Our Commitment to Safety in the Workplace
To keep our employees safe, IRD Glass follows all NIOSH instructions when using materials; follows all equipment manufacturer’s instructions regarding servicing; is in compliance with the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005; has a state-of-the-art ventilation system in place; provides, inspect, and replace all necessary personal protective equipment; and works to continually improve our internal safe-working practices and procedures.