Home Featured Articles A Problem Waiting to Happen

A Problem Waiting to Happen


AuthorStan RiddleVibrAlign

In maintenance, we work in a dangerous world.  Industry and OSHA have developed numerous regulations to mitigate the risk of injury.  Many of us who’ve been in the trades for years have worked with people who have scars, missing or damaged fingers, and so on.

Which is why I find the image above so disturbing.

I am a big believer in stainless, pre-cut shims for shaft alignment.  I also understand that sometimes you have to cut a shim anyway.  If you do, as simple as it seems, please keep the following in mind:

  • Cut the shim big enough to cover at least 50 percent of the foot. 75% is better.  100% is great.  But 150% of the foot size is a waste of material.  It is also quite dangerous.
  • De-burr and chamfer the corners of the shim.
  • Peen the shim flat, and file or sand it smooth.
  • If you are not using stainless, brass would be better than carbon steel, since it doesn’t rust.
  • If you are going to cut multiple shims, I’d recommend measuring the thickness with a micrometer, and writing it on the shim with a permanent marker.

If you don’t see the problem with the shim in the photo, please share it with your safety and health professional.  I bet they know what the problem is!

Also, consider signing up for *FREE* Training in September – learn more about The 2017 American Reliability Tour.


  1. The worker who did this is probably not at the level of a journeyman millwright. Furthermore, the work performed evidently lacked competent oversight. This is could be an indication of more widespread poor installation and maintenance practices at the jobsite location.


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