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Preventing Accidents in The Workplace

Making mistakes is a normal part of life. After all, if we didn’t make mistakes, we’d never learn anything. And while mistakes may sometimes make us feel embarrassed, foolish or ashamed, most mistakes don’t take more than a quick fix to correct.

Things are much more serious if the mistake involves hydraulic presses, press brakes, drills, saws and other industrial metalworking machinery. The consequences of these mistakes can be tragic, and often occur without warning. All it takes is for one employee to be momentarily distracted, or a machine to be turned on at the wrong time, and an injury could result.

Properly safeguarding your machinery is the best way to minimize the odds that these types of hazardous exposures will occur. Simply put: machine safeguarding works. Since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ushered in machine safeguarding requirements in 1970, workplace injuries have continued to decline. Despite this progress, thousands of workers each year suffer from avoidable amputations, lacerations, crushing injuries, abrasions, and deaths.

In order to help you identify and prevent common machine safeguarding mistakes, Rockford Systems has created the checklist below.

Conduct A Machine Safeguarding Assessment

As the old business saying goes, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” If conducted by a professional, Machine Safeguarding Assessments are the critical first step in creating both a safety baseline, and a machine safeguarding program that addresses the level of risk that each machine presents. The Machine Safeguarding Assessment process begins with an inspection of each machine in your shop to identify potential hazards in addition to examining the correctness and effectiveness of existing risk reduction methods and control systems. Once the assessment is completed, a report and project proposal is provided in outlining steps and equipment needed in meeting current OSHA regulations, as well as ANSI and NFPA standards.

Use Quality Equipment

It’s important to invest in quality Machine Safeguarding Equipment. Benjamin Franklin once stated that: “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten.” Or, you get what you pay for. Poorly designed equipment made of inferior componentry will, if not immediately, eventually underperform or fail. Quality equipment may cost, but quality equipment also helps to effectively reduce risk and reliably prevent workplace injuries.

Don’t Tamper with or Remove Machine Safeguarding Equipment from Machinery

There is a dangerous misconception that machine safeguarding equipment interferes with, or slows down, production. In some instances, and for different reasons, machine operators may tamper with or remove machine safeguarding equipment during production. Employees who do this unnecessarily expose themselves and those around them to hazards that can injure, or even kill them. It’s important for companies to provide safe operation training to their operators, as well as set expectations as to safety-related conduct within the company. Machine Operators need to understand how provided machine safeguarding equipment works, and how to operate machinery safely while utilizing all provided machine safeguarding equipment.

Don’t Assume That New (or Refurbished) Machines are Fully Compliant with Existing Regulations and Standards

Machines are built in many different countries today, and safety standards differ (sometimes widely) from one country to another.  Therefore, machines must be in compliance with safety regulations and standards in the country where they are installed and used.

The only way to know if your new machine is in compliance with current regulations and standards is to conduct a Machine Safeguarding Assessment on it. This goes for used machinery, as well.   All machinery, regardless of age, must meet existing OSHA regulations as a baseline. The ANSI B11 series safety standards offer excellent direction in not just meeting, but exceeding OSHA Regulation with respect to best practice in safeguarding machinery.

Safeguard Against All Types of Hazards

There are a wide variety of hazards that expose employees to injuries on any manufacturing floor. These can be broken down into four distinct types, all of which need safeguarding:

  • Hazardous Motions: rotating parts, reciprocating motions, and transverse motions;
  • Points of Operation: where the machine cuts, shapes, bores, or bends the stock being fed through it;
  • Pinch Points (‘Shear Points”): an area of a machine where a body part or clothing can be caught between a moving part and a stationary object; and
  • Non-mechanical hazards: this can be flying splinters, chips or debris; splashes, sparks, or sprays that are created when the machine is operating.

Machines enable operators to form and shape metals in ways that would be impossible with hand tools. Yet these same machines expose operators to very serious hazards whenever they cut, shear, punch, bend, or drill, oftentimes exerting tremendous force. And, when a mistake happens, operators can be injured or killed. It’s important to address hazardous exposures correctly before an injury results. Proper machine safeguarding equipment and other hazard reduction methods can help prevent simple mistakes from becoming injuries.

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