The main job of mechanical engineers is designing and building mechanical solutions for various problems. As an engineer, you will need to conduct tests that require you to repair, operate, or modify certain equipment. This testing may require you to push equipment beyond its breaking point. Even though mechanical engineering may not be an extremely dangerous field, you may still encounter certain risks while testing, installing, and repairing equipment. Let's take a look at some of the dangers you may face on the job.
As a mechanical engineer, you will likely work in numerous types of environments. You will sometimes be required to go to a site to install or repair equipment or get information required for the design of new equipment. In certain environments, you may encounter risks like slipping on wet floors or falling from a man lift or catwalk. Mechanical engineering work can involve large, heavy equipment and materials, which can pin or crush you. Another potential danger is the moving parts of equipment that may come into contact with your clothing or body.
Some environments may expose you to loud noises that could damage your hearing. Other potential dangers include excessive vibrations or temperatures. Some electrical equipment carry enough current to severely injure or even kill anyone coming into contact with it.
There is also the risk of being exposed to flammable or explosive materials. You may work around such materials when you dealing with internal combustion engines, alternative fuel sources, or fuel-handling equipment. You may also be working with cutting, welding, or soldering equipment.
Some equipment may overheat and start a fire during tests or operations. Certain cleaning fluids and other substances may be flammable, which may put you in danger while you are conducting routine maintenance or repairs. Whether on-site or in a lab, fire risk is a potential danger you need to be aware of.
In the course of your duties, you may encounter potentially toxic fumes. Gasoline and diesel fumes are hazardous to inhale, along with fumes from other types of fuel used to run equipment and machines. Additionally, there is the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from working with generators and machines in enclosed areas with little or no ventilation.
Equipment like pumps, hydraulics, compressors, and turbines are regularly used to test and develop materials. Mechanical engineers design systems and equipment for industries such as building construction, aerospace, biotechnology, marine vessel construction, fuel processing, and transportation. The equipment used in these industries often involves the use of heat, flames, gasses, and electricity. For this reason, you must use protective eyewear, face masks, gloves, and flame-retardant suits to ensure your safety. Even small mistakes can result in cuts, burns, or gas inhalation.
Awareness and Preparation Minimize Risk
In spite of the potential dangers, mechanical engineering is still a relatively safe field. The key is to keep your wits about you and educate yourself in the specific dangers you may encounter in a given environment.