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Cable Machine Safety

Having been in the construction, maintenance and service industry for 35 years, I’ve learned you find out how to do jobs by how you do them the first time – if you learn the wrong way or right way. Even if you learned the wrong way, it is not too late to learn the safe way. Spartan Tool equipment is built with safety in mind. But the end user of the equipment must also be diligent.

Seasoned pros and the new guys they train tend to want to grab the cable so they can feel the blockage. Most models have feeders with a cable guide, while some have the feeder and cable guide as an option. The purpose of the cable guide is to minimize or eliminate the need to have your hands on the cable. This helps to prevent your finger(s), hand or arm getting wrapped in the cable, leading to possible injury.

When you use a sewer machine that doesn’t have a cable guide, you should be operating it from the left-hand side (looking from behind the machine). This way, the drum rotation is clockwise (again from behind) so if you do start feeling the sudden pressure on you fingers, you’ll have fractions of a second to pull your hand back. Operating from the right-hand you run the risk of bending your fingers back to your elbow (ouch). These risks of injury are why it is so important to use a cable guide.

Proper gloves are essential as well. Many people like the ugly gloves or leather gloves. These are fine for jetting, but full-hand stapled gloves are the correct choice when using cable machines. The staples minimize friction when holding the cable, allowing the cable to glide through your hand and prevent getting wrapped up in the cable. Safety glasses or a full face shield to prevent stink water splash is top of the list also.

A final rule of thumb (pun intended): cable machines are for clearing lines, hydro jets are for cleaning line. Vents are for venting, clean outs are for clearing and cleaning.

Philip March is a Territory Manager for Spartan Tool, LLC.

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