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FLEXO Magazine : January 2010
www.flexography.org JANUARY 2010 FLEXO 45 MACHINE GUARDING The primary purpose of machine guards is to protect against nip points in the rotating shafts and rollers. Manual guards are used on some older presses. Those often have been or need to be modified to integrate them into the ma- chine so that if someone pulls off a guard, it automatically shuts off the machine. This prevents any type of injury from an in-running nip point. Newer machines have these already installed, and all of them have sensors that detect if the guard is removed, acci- dentally or otherwise. On large presses, there is often a door that a person has to enter. This acts just like a machine guard in those cases. Again, the intent is to prevent anyone from reaching in or around any type of rotating shaft or roller. Operators need to be aware of the reason that machine guards are in place. For the most part, they'll figure out that the press won't run otherwise, but they should be informed of the dangers so that they don't try to bypass it. Another precaution that's often used is warning labels. Like guards, these often come standard, but older presses may not necessarily have them. It's a visual warning. We don't want employees reaching around to try to access something inside there. In some cases, if you try hard enough, you can get around a machine guard. Training should focus on understanding what the hazard is and eliminating that unsafe practice. LOCK OUT/TAG OUT For all presses, there should be lock out procedures. Any time there is a maintenance issue, such as a breakdown in a print station, the lock out will put the press in a zero-energy state. This way, there is no possibility that any person working on this press can be injured in any way. Some companies prefer to use photos to illustrate each step. It's simple enough to take a photo of the button that needs to be pressed or the latch that needs to be removed, etc. These can be laminated and posted at each machine. It is a lot easier for people to follow this kind of procedure visu- ally. It is clearer than reading alone and reduces the chance for misinterpretation. DOCTOR BLADE HANDLING A person off the street who is completely unfamiliar with printing will not know anything about doctor blades. At a glance, they do not look sharp. But it's a major hazard if you don't take the proper precaution. It will cut skin and tissue just like a razor. The biggest hazard is the installation and removal of blades. Any time this takes place, or any time doctor blades are cleaned, cut-resistant gloves must be used. For some companies, the most common injury is doctor blade lacera- tions---both among new and established employees. A pro- cedure should be established for proper handling, and this document should reference the use of cut-resistant gloves. Installation is a very simple process. They are purchased in the exact size to match the press, so no cutting is necessary. The old blade is removed and the new one is set in a groove within the doctor blade unit. There is nothing fancy about the process, but the blade is very sharp. Equate it with removing a hot pan from an oven. It's not complicated, but you still need oven mitts. OTHER CORE TOPICS Those are the top three most critical concerns in order. Other issues that warrant attention include chemical safety, over exertion and fire safety. Any firm that uses solvent-based chemicals is going to have different hazards than one that doesn't. There are two things to look at here: exposure and grounding. Containers should have self-closing lids, but the extra precaution here is to make sure they are grounded. Solvent chemicals can easily start a fire, particularly around a press. If lids are closed, the risk is minimal of both exposure and fire. But grounding provides that extra layer of protection. Over exertion is a challenge with some larger presses, particularly older ones. In these cases, for maintenance and other situations, it is sometimes necessary to crawl in, under and over presses. This can put personnel in awkward positions---literally. With high decks on central-impression presses, an operator or helper may be required to climb onto a ladder to access it. If this is required in a given operation, it is recommended that companies hold sprain/ strain training reviews, which emphasize periodic stretching before and/or during shifts. Proper lifting and handling techniques are closely related. Some companies go as far as using lift tables that will rise up to the employee's height to prevent having to pick up or put finished rolls on the ground. Hoists are common in wide web printing operations for large rollers and other components. Those are the main thing every company should empha- size. Also noteworthy, however, is the topic of PPE (personal protective equipment). Safety glasses with side shields are important where there's a lot of paper dust or risk of chemical splashing. Hearing protection is important too, as printing presses can be loud and exceed OSHA's eight-hour exposure level. Steel toed shoes should be required where heavy rolls are handled or can be dropped. There is much dispute about the benefits of a back belt. A variation of this, called a therapeutic belt, has been found to be favorable by some companies. At a minimum, health and safety training should be conducted on a monthly. A quick five-minute presentation is a good idea, but any communication method (newsletters, flyers in the break room, etc.) should be taken advantage of to convey safety issues. Beyond that, management should investigate the use of a job safety analysis (JSA). This involves a thorough examina- tion of specific tasks that each employee is charged with, and investigating common or potential risks. In a flexo envi- ronment, these are often well known. But a JSA gets into the nitty-gritty detail. For those who may have never done one, OSHA offers an informational packet on the topic: http:// www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3071.pdf. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ryan Smith is safety director at C-P Flexible Packaging, York, PA. PLANTS & PROCESSES
Sustainable EOY 2009