Rebuilt Machinery Opens Up New Concerns About SafetyJuly 1, 2009
(Provided by Anthony Rante, president and principle engineer for Artech Engineering Inc., Chicago, IL; www.artechengineering.com. Rante is a member of the ASME B5 Committee on Power Press Standards.)
With the current emphasis on refurbishing and re-use of existing metalforming and fabricating equipment, the need for thorough and detailed safety management takes on an even greater concern. With each equipment upgrade, metalformers must conduct a thorough safety evaluation of the primary equipment and its use in production.
Unfortunately, safety management often takes a back seat to production, and does not become a concern until an incident occurs.
In most cases, manufacturers will need to address the relevant OSHA requirements for safeguarding equipment; go to www.osha.gov for starters, to seek information about stopping times, palm-button locations, point-of-contact guarding, etc. Also, stay up to speed on advances in sensor technology—light curtains, coded proximity switches, safety mats and related products.
The name of the game: Identify all possible hazards in all possible scenarios. Management should include employees most knowledgeable about the equipment and process in safety-brainstorming sessions. Start with a list of the day-to-day uses of each machine or system to capture all uses and functions.
When possible, include outside help in conducting safety reviews. Getting a fresh set of eyes to review a process or machine can help identify hazards that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Press accidents often occur during die setting, a particularly dangerous process because it often requires a combination of power-on and power-off procedures. Requirements related to power-off and locking out the press are very clear. The critical question becomes how to safely set a die once power is restored. All hazards must be eliminated—look for creative uses of fixtures to eliminate the hazards. Regular preventive maintenance also falls into this category.
These items are just a few of the considerations to ensure a safe press shop. As everyone strives to be more competitive, we continue to do more with our existing equipment. Modernization of an older piece of equipment can turn it into a profit center. Complete the process with a thorough safety review on the front end of the project.
Artech Engineering Inc.: www.artechengineering.com
See also: Artech Engineering Inc.
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