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Plasma Cutter Safety Tips

Plasma cutting offers a method of cutting through conductive metals which is much faster and smoother than more traditional methods. With the introduction of smaller, more portable plasma cutting machines in the mid-1990’s, the process has become much more commonly used with more and more businesses opting to move over to plasma cutting and away from older techniques.

plasma cutter safety

With the adaption of new technologies, however, comes new safety risks. While plasma cutting is a simple and easy process, it does still present some safety risks, and all businesses should be familiar with these risks and correct safety procedures to follow.


Gasses and fumes from plasma cutting can cause health problems. The area should always be well ventilated, and the operator should keep their head to the side of the plasma cutter rather than above it to avoid directly breathing in fumes.

If cutting coated materials such as galvanised steel, the coating can produce toxic fumes, so it is recommended that the coating is removed before cutting and the use of a suction system or exhaust hood is used to vent fumes safely. An alternative option is for the operator to wear a respirator with an air supply.

Protective Clothing

Protective clothing, gloves and glasses are required to protect the operator from sparks and hot metal and also from the UV and infrared rays of the plasma arc, which can burn skin and eyes.

Fire Hazards

With hot metal and sparks created by the cutting process, precautions should be taken to minimise the risk of fire, these include:

  • Protective, flame resistant clothing.
  • Keeping the work area clear of flammable materials and dust.
  • Operators should not carry flammable items such as matches or cigarette lighters.
  • Plasma cutting should not be undertaken in areas near flammable gasses or vapours.

Electrical Safety

As a high voltage appliance, there are risks of severe electrical shocks, burns and death if any electrical parts of the plasma torch are touched. The plasma torch should be inspected daily for damage such as broken connections and worn out cables. The plasma cutter should not be used in damp conditions, and it should be grounded correctly to National Electrical Code standards (NFPA70)

Gas Cylinder Safety

If using compressed gas cylinders, they should always be kept upright and well secured. The hose to the cylinder should be kept off the ground and should be inspected for any tangles, loose connections or wear before use.

By following these simple safety steps, you will help to ensure that your workspace is kept safe for you and your co-workers.

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