Before ultrasonic cleaning became a popular method for cleaning parts and components, removing contamination from parts was expensive, time-consuming, and a task that put employees at risk. Cleaning components by hand exposed workers to potential cuts and punctures from sharp edges, sharp tools, or heavy parts that might get dropped.
Even if the parts were small and maneuverable, employees could still exposed to harsh solvents that were capable of causing illness or other health issues, in addition to being flammable.
Ultrasonic cleaners have made a step-change-improvement in safety for our employees.
Using ultrasonic cleaning systems keep employees safe by not exposing them to hazardous solvents. Ultrasonic cleaning systems mean minimal handling of parts by employees.
Rather than holding, turning, and repositioning parts to access all of the hidden ports and passageways, we can place them in a basket or suspend them from a hanger,and walk away from them until they’re clean. Less handling of parts means less exposure to potential injury. An additional upside is that, since employees don’t have to handle parts to clean them, they are free to do other more productive tasks.
Another way ultrasonic cleaners keep our employees safe is by not requiring them to use small cleaning tools that can cut and puncture skin. Motorized wire brushes, handheld reamers, files, and wire brushes expose our employees to a variety of puncture wounds, cuts, and abrasions.
The wires in some of these tools are extremely fine and can easily bend and break off, penetrating the skin—often unbeknownst to the employee. The body treats these wires like any other foreign object; in a couple of days, the area might well be infected, and the employee may require medical attention.
Probably the biggest safety advantage of using ultrasonic cleaning systems is that they don’t use dangerous solvents. Solvents are major health risks to our employees, exposing them to cancer-causing vapors, damage to vital body organs, or short-term illness. To prevent exposure, we have them suit up in expensive, heavy, and productivity-killing personal protective equipment.
This not only is uncomfortable, but can also become a safety issue due to the heat trapped inside the suit. Spraying solvents into blind holes creates the potential for blow-back and damage to the eyes and sinuses. Even if human health weren’t an issue (and believe me it is), we still expose our employees and our business to the potential for fires and explosions due to mishandling of solvents, which are highly volatile and have a low flash point.
Working around systems containing these solvents requires its own set of special precautions, including special high-hazard class electrical equipment, installed fire protection systems, and spark-proof tools in some cases.
Ultrasonic cleaning generally involve the use of non-hazardous detergents to clean parts. Handling parts that have been in the cleaning solution requires no special personal protective equipment (PPE), and does not create any adverse safety or health issues for our employees.
The only precautions we must warn employees about are to keep their body parts out of the cleaning solution while ultrasonic cleaners are in use, and always disconnect the system from the source of electricity before performing any cleaning, maintenance, or repair activities on the unit. Compared to other types of parts cleaning systems, ultrasonic cleaning machines keep our employees safe.