Friday, May 20, 2016

Machine Safety with New and Young Workers

Summertime is close and many organizations are preparing to bring on some help for a potential busier period.  One of the most vulnerable groups when it comes to machine safety is new and young workers.  Let’s talk in this month’s blog about how to prepare for that.

Some common habits contribute to this.  New and young workers may not ask questions about the work they are performing and the hazards of the equipment they may be using.  They may be nervous with the new job and worried that asking questions may make them look bad.  Understanding the hazards of equipment is a critical part of the machine safeguarding process.  Employers have the habit of assuming that because new and young workers don’t ask questions that means they understand all of their work and the hazards that come with it.  That can be a false assumption.    They are an important group because even though they may start out as helpers on machines, they hopefully grow one day to be your main operators. Here are some tips that may help your new and young workers when it comes to machine safety.

Safeguarding Controls: Ensure that your machines are guarded to meet CSA Z432-04 standards. Strong safeguarding controls are the most effective way to protect workers against hazards on your machines.

Training:  Even though they may not be hired to operate the machinery, make sure new and young workers used as helpers have the same training as operators on the hazards of operating the equipment they are assisting on.  Walk them through the safe work procedures and highlight hazards, safeguards that are in place and the safe operation of the equipment.  This can also be an important time to review your risk assessment for that equipment and determine if safeguards are in place to protect them.

Orientation Checklists: Develop a checklist for supervisors specifically for new and young workers.  Inform the supervisor group of the tendency for these workers not to come out and ask questions, so have them check and ask them questions to ensure they understand the hazards of equipment and safeguards in place.

Visuals: Work to have your training materials more visual, with pictures demonstrating hazards and safeguards in place rather than words.  Pictures can be a much more effective way to communicate.  New and young workers can review these procedures and identify safeguards that are meant to be in place and determine if they are there, or have been removed.  Make sure all awareness decaling on machinery is kept up to date.  If the decals that show the hazards have worn off, replace them.  The primary operators may have remembered what the decaling was for, but new workers will not.

 

Hopefully these tips can help, and let us know if you have any other tips or ideas.

Posted by Kristin Petaski at 6:50 AM 1 Comments

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Safety Mats

Safety mats have a simple method of activation.  They are designed that when a specified minimum weight makes contact, they “close” and stop machine movement.  Safety mats are usually a series of sensor pads with a metal frame bolted around the perimeter.  Many pads when placed together form a larger mat outline.

The CSA Standards outline performance requirements for safety mats.  For all presence sensing it’s important that they have a readily observable indication that they are operating.  Also the environment that they are placed in is important.  Environmental conditions shall not adversely affect the performance of the mat.  Dust can be one of the factors that can do this.  There is also a minimum object sensitivity for safety mats.  This should clearly be indicated in the documentation as to what the minimum is for that product.

The CSA Standards also outline application requirements for safety mats.  One of the most basic ones is that by stepping on the mat, machine function shall stop.  When an operator steps off the mat, there needs to be a deliberate action outside the hazard zone (a reset for example) before machine movement starts.  The mats need to be sufficient size and geometry to detect intrusion from all access.  You don’t want operators to be able to just reach over a mat and access the hazard.  They need to be securely mounted and the mounting perimeter shall not create a tripping hazard.  A ramped edge is often used to secure them.

These are not all, but some of the more important considerations when selecting safety mats in your safeguarding plan.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about safety mats.

Posted by Kristin Petaski at 5:44 AM 0 Comments