Portable Fan Near Miss

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Good ventilation is important, especially when it’s hot out like it is at this time of season. Ventilation helps you keep cool by keeping the air flowing over you as you work and sweat in the heat.

Portable fans can make a huge difference while we are working in the heat. Sometimes we take them for granted but it is important to take a look at them periodically to ensure they are operating properly and safely. A fan that is not in good shape can also be a very dangerous and unsuspecting hazardous item to have in our work area.

The photograph in this toolbox is from a portable fan sitting right next to a work area where 4 people worked. As the employees were working they heard a loud noise come from the fan and saw the front guard fly up in the air and fly 30 feet over their 8 foot high machine and land near a working area on the next machine over from their area.

Luckily no one was in the area at the time nor was hurt. They found the front guard and the part of the missing blade that had flown in another direction. Investigation showed that vibration from the fan running continually for week after week caused the locking brackets that kept the front guard attached to the back guard to come loose. The front guard dropped down, hit the moving blades, broke the blade and the pieces went flying like a bullet.

It is important that we look at the fans in our area. Today after this toolbox topic, take a couple minutes and take a look at any portable fans in your area.

brokenfan2Check to ensure:

  • The guard is attached solidly and the brackets and rivets are in place.
  • The guard has no gaps greater than half an inch in it to prevent fingers or objects from penetrating into the moving blades.
  • The cord has the ground prong in place
  • There is no damage to the cord
  • The blades are clean and free of dirt
  • The motor housing is clean and free of dirt and debris that may cause it to overheat
  • The fan is securely attached with the mounting bracket to the wall, beam or portable stand.

If you find any issues, please let us know so we can get it taken care of immediately. The last thing we want is to have unexpected flying objects in our work area.


This toolbox topic was reviewed by ______________________________________ on ___________________________ with the following employees: