Packaging machines are used in most manufacturing industries. The largest proportion are used in the food/drink manufacturing industries, with the pharmaceutical industries the second largest user.
Because of their widespread nature it is not possible to pinpoint an injury rate for any particular type of machine. However an analysis of machinery accidents investigated by UK HSE in the food/drink industries has established the classes of machines listed below require particular attention. Injuries arising from the use, maintenance or clearing blockages at packaging machines can be severe or even fatal (for example with palletizers).
- Conveyors are involved in 30% of all machinery accidents in the food/drink industries – more than any other class of machine.
- 90% of conveyor injuries occur on flat belt conveyors.
- 90% of the injuries involve well known hazards such as in-running nips, transmission parts and trapping points between moving and fixed parts.
- Safeguarding of hazardous parts of conveyors may be by design (eg lift-out rollers that prevent finger trapping), fixed guarding (requiring a hand tool such as a spanner to remove) or hinged or removable interlocked guards (eg guards fitted with coded, magnetic interlock switches to prevent the machine running with the guard removed). In the food industry interlocked guards have the advantage of making the machine easier to hygienically clean on a frequent basis, however maintenance when subject to cleaning fluids may be higher.
- A safe system of work should be in place for daily and routine hygienic cleaning of the conveyor that ensures workers are not placed at risk of injury from unguarded moving parts. The system of work used should be formalised and workers appropriately trained.
In relation to Thermoform, fill and seal machines – Around 50% of injuries are caused by failures in guarding the two main hazard areas:
- the forming dies, and
- the cutters that separate the continuous packaging into individual packs.
The major causative factors are:
- guards removed or inadequate (36%)
- guards not provided or fallen into disuse (19%) – unsafe systems of work especially during maintenance (17%).
Palletisers and depalletisers
- Most injuries occur when operators or maintenance personnel enter the machine and become trapped between fixed parts and moving parts such as transfer heads, sweepers, pushers etc. The risk is made greater by the unexpected nature of machine movements. managing the safe maintenance and inspections and maintaining asset compliance with regulations will reduce injuries.;
- There are also hazards from falling loads, sudden movements of jammed product or pallets that are freed, or by movement due to failure to dump stored energy in pneumatic or hydraulic systems.
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