Introduction:Note: This page is not intended to be a comprehensive or exhaustive account of health hazards, risks and means of risk reduction in this particular type of workplace, but is intended to exemplify aspects of the Management of Health and Safety in Workplaces and to assist in education and practical implementation about this.
Types of FoundriesFoundry processes can be divided into two types:- ferrous foundries and non-ferrous foundries (the latter usually work at a lower temperature).
In any case they have the common process of pouring molten metal into a shape called a mould. This determines the outer configuration of whatever is being cast. Sometimes there is an inner core to determine the shape of the cavity on the inside of the object.
Therefore foundry processes involve making the mould and the core, melting and pouring the metal into the mould, and finally removing the mould and core and finishing the product.
Health Hazards in Foundries
A very important hazard clearly is that of the heat radiating from the process itself, and the severe injury that can result from spillages of molten metal.
However the process generates substantial amounts of metal fumes. For example lead in gun metal, and other alloys, can contribute substantially to the foundry working environment in a very harmful way, especially if methods of control at source including local ventilation are not adequate.
The moulds and cores also present hazards - these range from silica sand, to the various agents which may be used to bind it, ranging from alkalis such as Sodium Silicate through to organic synthetic agents such as isocyanates, furans and phenolics. Some of these carry serious risks of sensitisation.
Foundries are also very prone to hazards from noise which can result in industrial deafness and from vibration (in the fettling process) which can lead to hand arm vibration syndrome. Some of them suffer from poor standards of "housekeeping" with numerous trip hazards etc.