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Safety Precautions for Handling Magnets

This safety precaution must be brought to the attention of all personnel who may use, handle, or process magnet materials and magnet assemblies.

The extremely strong magnetic fields and strong mechanical forces developed by rare earth magnets may create hazards to personnel through chipping, shattering or pinching on impact. Make sure that magnetized rare earth magnets are under control when they come in contact with each other or ferromagnetic materials. Alnico magnets, Ceramic magnets, and magnetic assemblies, depending on size, can also create similar hazardous conditions. It is important to wear safety glasses and other appropriate protective gear when handling large magnets. Wearing gloves to protect one's hands is also recommended.

Keep ferromagnetic metals away from the work area. Be cautious when handling tools near permanent magnets and magnet assemblies. Be attentive when working with magnets. When handling large magnets, be cautious when under the influence of any drugs that can cause drowsiness. Do not work with magnetized magnets if you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or controlled substances.

Sensitive electronic instruments and devices may change calibration or be damaged by a powerful magnetic field. Always keep magnetized magnets a safe distance away from sensitive electronic instruments. Special caution should be exercised if one is wearing a pacemaker, because strong magnetic fields can damage the electronics inside pacemakers.

Rare earth magnets and magnetic materials may create sparks through contact in handling, especially when allowed to impact together. Never handle rare earth magnets in explosive atmospheres because sparking may ignite that atmosphere.

Rare earth powder is combustible; spontaneous combustion can occur when the powder is dry. If grinding, always wet grind magnets to avoid spontaneous combustion of the grinding swarf. Never dry grind. Make sure to have adequate ventilation when grinding magnets. Do not try to machine magnets using conventional tools, as this can produce chipping and shattering. Always wear safety glasses.

Always store rare earth powder or grinding swarf in water-filled containers or hermetically sealed inert atmospheres to prevent spontaneous combustion.

Always dispose of rare earth powder with care. Do not risk fires. Disposal of magnetized magnets must be done correctly so as to prevent injury when handling.

For supplementary reference, refer to National Fire Protection Association Standard 654 entitled Dust Explosion Prevention-Industrial Plants, 1994. This publication is available from:

National Fire Protection Association
1 Battery March Park
P.O. Box 9101
Quincy, MA 02269-9101