Improving Safety When Using Machines In The Workplace
There are a lot of different machines in use every day in the workplace to help with manufacturing, packaging, and automation of just about any task you can think of. Working with machines can be dangerous so it is critical that these machines have safeguards in place to keep people from getting injured.
Interlocks and Entry Point Safety
Any machine that has moving parts can cause an injury if the operator is able to reach or fall into the work area. These machines need to have interlocks and safety switches at the entry point to the machine that disables the machine when they are breached or opened. If the machine has a door, a safety switch can trip an emergency shut down when the door is open to stop the machine from moving.
Sometimes there is no door so the machine is fitted with a light beam sensor that will shut down the machine if anything breaks the beam. The light beam is an effective sensor but it is easier to trip accidentally that if the machine has a gate or door on it.
A machine that has parts that travel in one direction or another can benefit from limit switches that stop the machine in the event that is over travels. The switch will detect the movement and shut the machine down before damage occurs to the machine or an operator in the area is hit but the moving part.
Limit switches can also be used to lock out the machine if a door or gate is opened too far or a panel or cover is left open on the machine.
Emergency Shut Down
Even machines fitted with interlocks and sensors to shut it down if someone gets too close should have an emergency shut down button within easy reach of the operator. If the operator can not hit the button quickly, an injury can occur from the delay involved in shutting the machine off.
Once the emergency button is tripped, the operator should be required to power the machine down and restart it for the safety to clear. This helps keep the machine from coming back on accidentally while the operator is clearing whatever issue stopped the machine in the first place.
Emergency buttons should incorporate a lockout function that allows the operator to place a lock and tag on the machine to keep anyone from starting it back up after a shutdown. When a machine is shut down, no one other than the operator that shut it down or a technician working on the machine should restart it.
For more information, contact a company that carries machine control safety products.