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Machine Risk – Reducing Likelihood

- February 5, 2019 by Mark Yeck, CIH, CSP (View all posts by Mark)

Use of machines such as press brakes and mechanical power presses are still commonplace in manufacturing throughout a variety of industries. Over the decades there have been numerous improvements in safety technology available for this equipment that includes light curtains, motor control systems and A/B gate systems. That said, many antiquated pieces are still in service often with no safety features at all and poor if any maintenance. Compounding lack of basic safety features is the nature of the work itself. Tasks often requires holding the workpiece in the machine or in close proximity. Some press work may require multiple entries into the die for production of small or difficult to extract parts (like rings).

Since machine operation is typically high-frequency production, reducing the likelihood of injury is a key risk reduction area with potential for significant risk reduction and return on investment (2010 average cost of amputation claim survey estimated over $65,000).

Risk reduction efforts for high-frequency machine operations could include:

  • Developing feed jigs or devices to move the worker’s hand further from the point of operation
  • Use of custom hand tools for feed or removal of materials from machines
  • Magnetic or pneumatic clamp devices to hold the material
  • Material flow analysis and change to reduce worker interface in the production process
  • Robotics
  • Change of process to achieve the desired specification without the machine hazard– water jet vs. punch, one higher speed roll feed automated part-revolution press with a motor control system vs. several slower single revolution uncontrolled presses)
  • Automate dye change, jam clearing and adjustment

Do you have an exposure that your company is struggling to get under control? Let us know, and we’ll dedicate an upcoming blog to that topic.