Although PCB assembly remains a profitable business, there are risks in the process of assembly and manufacturing. There might be work-related diseases and injuries that can be caused by the materials and equipment used in PCB assembly. Apart from that, there is also a chance of electrical shock while working on PCBs.
Proper steps must be followed to ensure that the working environment is free from any hazards.
1.Solder fumes contain lead. Exposure to substantial amounts of lead is toxic to anyone. It is important to do the soldering process in an enclosed area to make sure that the fumes are contained and not released into the open air.
2.Although it has been previously mentioned that the place must be a closed environment, it does not mean that is should not be well lit. Remember that you are working with complex pieces that need to be placed precisely on the board. Any minor shift in position could lead to a complete error in the entire process. Therefore, insufficient lighting might lead to serious injuries such as being burned by a soldering iron.
3.To be safe at all times, wear hand gloves. There are processes that require handling of hazardous chemicals that can burn your skin. Soldering requires the use of a soldering iron that reaches a hundred degrees. Without proper heed for safety, this can take toll on the worker’s safety.
4.Inspection and testing are the last process in PCB assembly. If you are doing the assembly yourself, either get a portable appliance testing apparatus or hire a technician that will test the equipment for you.
PAT tester or insulator tester is a special testing equipment used by manufacturers. It can be quite expensive apparatus for a hobbyist so if you cannot afford it, resort to the second option: hire a technician. If you can’t do both, then at least get a pair of anti-static gloves and anti-static mat when testing your PCB.
5.If you are a hobbyist who is passionate about learning electronics, you might try to do the assembly by yourself. There is nothing wrong with that but always take the necessary precaution when inspecting and testing your finished PCB.
Remember to use appropriate power and voltage when testing your PCB. You must also check for the connections before actually plugging in the power. Otherwise, short circuits and other electrical mishaps could happen.
6.PCB assembly manufacturers should also use engineering tools such as exhaust hoods. It is also important to regularly check these hoods to ensure that they are still fully functional. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, evaluation of exhaust hoods must be done every 3 months.
7.Meet all the employees on a regular basis for safety trainings regarding potential hazards in the workplace and how work-related injuries can be addressed. All workers must be required by the manufacturer to wear safety goggles while working.
As you know, soldering requires heat and metal. There is therefore a possibility for metal pieces to fly into your eyes. The same might happen during the etching process where strong acids might emit fumes that are dangerous to your eyes.
8.Encourage the employees to report any possible work-related diseases. Electronic circuit assembly certainly exposes the workers to hazardous chemicals. It is better to abate the condition earlier.
9.PCBs become easily outmoded in 12-18 months. This means that PCB assembly is an ongoing process of meeting ever-increasing demands. These outdated PCBs will add to the things piling up in landfills and waste streams. PCB manufacturers can help save the environment by reusing older products and selling them to interested consumers.
Remember that handling electronics and potentially hazardous chemicals requires you to follow a lot of safety measures.
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