May 7, 2022

Lathe Safety Guidelines

If you are working or using a lathe, whether in a workshop or on a job site, you need to be fully aware of any safety concerns. Here are some important safety guidelines to ensure your safety on a lathe.

Lathe safety guidelines before using 

  • Before each job, inspect and adjust all safety devices.
  • Before you begin, double-check that the guards are in place and good functioning order.
  • Ascertain that any stationary equipment is securely fastened to the floor.
  • Ensure that all machines have a start/stop button that is easily accessible to the operator.
  • Ensure that all machines have an emergency stop button (e-stop).
  • At any one time, each machine should only have one operator. Everyone should know how to shut down the system in an emergency.
  • Before turning on the power, make sure all keys and adjusting wrenches are absent from the machine. Make a tool rack for easy access.
  • Make sure all blades and cutting instruments are clean and sharp. They should be able to cut without restriction.
  • Before measuring, cleaning, or making any modifications, turn off the equipment.
  • Before beginning maintenance or repairs, take the necessary lockout precautions.
  • Remove clippings with a vacuum, brush, or rake. Cuttings should not be handled by hand because they are incredibly sharp.
  • Keep your hands clear of the cutting head and any other moving parts.
  • Avoid awkward hand positions and operations. The hand may slide into the cutting instrument or blade due to a rapid slip.
  • After each use, return all portable tooling to its proper storage location.
  • After each use, clean all tools.
  • Maintain a clean, well-swept, and well-lit work environment. Level floors with a non-slip surface are ideal.
  • Ensure there is enough space around the machine to do the task securely.
  • It would help to treat all injuries right away.
  • Understand that the health and fire risks differ from one substance to the next. Practice all necessary safeguards.
  • Suppose there is a risk of a combustible dust situation; clean machines, ducts, hoods, and other areas. Some metal dust has the potential to explode.

Safe guidelines when using a lathe

  • Wear safety glasses that are CSA-certified. Others in the area may need to wear safety glasses, as things may fly off the job.
  • Ensure no entanglement hazards (e.g., loose clothing, jewelry, etc.). Please tie your long hair back and contain it.
  • Remove any obstacles or slip risks from the floor.
  • Ensure that the lathe has a start/stop button that is easily accessible to the operator.
  • Check for an emergency stop button on the lathe (e-stop).
  • Follow the task criteria for speed, feed, and cut depth for turning materials. Ascertain that all work is accurate and centered.
  • Drill a hole in the center of the work to stabilize the item while it spins.
  • Secure and clamp the piece you’re working on.
  • Adjust the tool and tool rest to be slightly higher than the work’s center.
  • To handle hefty chucks or work, use a lifting device. For more information, go to Materials Handling.
  • Examine the chucks for signs of wear or damage. Flying parts are pretty hazardous.
  • After adjusting the chuck, remove the chuck wrench immediately.
  • Use a barrier guard when using the lathe in semi-automatic or automatic mode.
  • Protect all power transmission components.
  • Before operating the machine, remove all tools, measuring instruments, and other things from the saddle or lathe bed.
  • Maintain the sharpness of all lathe cutting instruments.
  • Before mounting or removing accessories, turn off the motor’s power supply.
  • Stop the lathe before collecting any measurements.
  • Remove cuttings using a vacuum, brush, or rake only after the lathe has stopped moving.
  • Ensure that the work surface is free of scraps, tools, and materials.
  • Keep the area around the lathe clean and grease-free.

Safely guidelines after using a lathe

  • When the job ends, turn off the machine.
  • Ensure that all guards are fully closed.
  • Avoid allowing swarf to accumulate on the tool or work. Stop the machine and take it apart.
  • Leave the machine in a secure, clean, and orderly condition.
  • After each use, remove the chuck key from the chuck.
  • Before turning on the power, turn the chuck or faceplate through by hand to ensure there are no binding or clearance issues.
  • Before taking measurements, turn off the machine.
  • Remove all tools from the tool post and tailstock before cleaning the lathe.
Woman worker wearing safety goggles control lathe machine to drill components

Lathe Machine hazards and controls


Hazards are as follows:

  1. Excessive lifting
  2. Entanglement or contact with moving elements or loose objects
  3. Metal chips or swarf contact 
  4. Liquid coolant contact 
  5. Leaking hydraulic hoses
  6. Use of ineffective tooling and polishing procedures
  7. Noise
  8. Falls, trips, and slips
  9. Unexpected movement causes contact, collision, or entanglement (during maintenance, cleaning & repairs)


  1. If necessary, use a mechanical lifting device.
  2. During loading and unloading, do not use the lathe.

Metal lathe safety checklist

  • Locate and familiarise yourself with all machine controls and functions.
  • Ensure that all guards are properly installed, secure, and working. If the guards are missing or broken, do not operate.
  • Check workspaces and pathways for any potential slip/trip risks.
  • Make sure that the job is secured in the chuck.
  • Remove all tools from the machine’s bed and slides.
  • Ascertain that the correct machining speed is selected.
  • Before starting the lathe, remove the chuck key.

Lathe Machine safety guard

The following are the basic principles for manual lathe guards:

  • Interlocked chuck guard
  • Feed and lead screw safety 
  • Feed and lead screw safety 
  • Fixed rear guard
  • Safety levers and emergency stop
  • Cover for the gear drive (fixed or interlocked)
  • Turn off and bring the machine to a complete stop before making modifications or measurements.
  • Disconnect the chuck key from the chuck at all times.

Lathe Hazards list

  1. Flying things, such as the chuck key accidentally left in the chuck.
  2. Cleaning, filing, or polishing a cutting instrument can cause harm.
  3. Hair or garments becoming entangled in moving machine parts.
  4. Metal shards and swarf
  5. Eye injury.

Operating safety precautions

It would help place emergency stop buttons in easily accessible positions on the machine. These buttons allow the operator to swiftly stop the device in a failure or an emergency circumstance, e.g., entangled. You can easily find these buttons near the operation controls. For cleaning chips or measuring the workpiece, never approach a revolving workpiece. Stop the machine and wait for it to completely stop if you need to measure or clean the workpiece. If you’re working on a big or awkward piece, enlist the help of another person or a lifting device to help you lift and secure it.

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