How Safe is Your Facility?
Machine safety in your manufacturing facility should not be an afterthought. "Things happen" and the safety and well-being of your valued workers should be paramount.
Remember as kids we would dare each other to do things? It started out with “I dare you to …” Sometimes we would do the “dare” and end up hurt or in trouble with Mom. As adults we normally don’t dare each other anymore, but around manufacturing machines “things happen” and people can get hurt.
Safety for a Dangerous Work Environment
Safety is now a growing concern in manufacturing plants because the machines are more complicated and packed in smaller areas for increased production and less space usage. This means that getting around the plant can be a dangerous activity. Now companies are faced with making their machines safer or paying for worker injuries, machine down time, and government fines.
Where to Start With Safety
So, what do I do to make my machine safe? First, start with Hard Guarding. This can be as simple as a fence around the machine or a metal cover over the “danger” spot. Maintenance people or operators may have to get inside the fence or into the “danger” spot to repair something or unjam the process line which would require an opening in the fence, a door, or the metal cover to be removed. Now we need to use a safety switch on the door or cover to ensure the machine doesn’t run while it is open or removed.
Alternatives to Hard Guarding
Second are machines that have “danger” spots but have no room for a Hard Guard. There are electronic components that can be used as safety devices that would stop the machine when activated. These devices include Light Curtains, Edge and Bumper switches, and mats. The issue with any machine is how long it takes for the machine to stop and no longer have a “danger” spot. These curtains and mats allow the time for the machine to stop before a person can get to the danger area. There are also machines that can’t stop quickly enough so a Laser Scanner is a device that can reach longer distances and give the people a warning or shut the machine down.
Last, for complex machines with a lot of safety devices, a control of some type may be needed to ensure the machine is safe all the time. The whole purpose for the safety technology is to keep the employees from injury and all the ramifications that causes.
- Lonnie, Corporate Training Manager