Monday, January 11, 2016

Light Curtains Can Be Dangerous If Not Designed and Applied Correctly

      Light curtains have become a very popular method of safeguarding equipment. They are a very flexible solution as they allow full access to a hazard zone providing that the hazardous motion has been stopped and they are also becoming more and more cost effective as more suppliers enter the market.

      But don’t rush into purchasing and installing a light curtain, they have their limitations and you are relying on them to protect your workers. Ask yourself these two main questions before deciding on a light curtain for your machine:

 

  1. What hazard am I wanting to protect against?

      Light curtains are designed to stop hazardous motion when activated. Many machine hazards can be signalled to stop, however some cannot such as projectiles or moving components without a braking system like a flywheel. It is important to consider all hazards and activities on a machine and ensure that the guarding solution you are choosing is capable of protecting against all the hazards, not just some of them. If you have not done a risk assessment on your machine, do not move forward with a guarding solution. A risk assessment is always the first step.

 

            2. What design requirements are necessary to ensure the light curtain adequately protects against that hazard?

Unfortunately it is not as simple as choosing the one and only light curtain from the catalog and throwing it on your machine. There are many specifications to consider such as length, resolution, performance level, programmable requirements, safety distance and overall guarding design. If these specifications are not considered you may end up spending a lot of money on a guarding system that doesn’t actually protect your workers. Without a properly designed system, operators may be able to work around them or the light curtains may not actually stop your machine before the operator can reach the hazard.

 

It is crucial to be confident that your light curtain system has been designed and installed correctly. If your workers reach through a protected area, they are counting on the machine functions to be disabled. Don’t put your workers at risk, do your due diligence when considering light curtain applications. Call us if you have any questions!

Posted by Kristin Petaski at 3:21 PM 0 Comments