Guarding of injection molding machines is tough because the operator has to often regulate the equipment’s moving parts. While Cal/OSHA regulations have provided for some exceptions to locking out machines (if a particular operation is vital to the process), this does not mean that there can be compromises on safety in any way.
To make use of such exceptions to locking out provided under the law, the employer is required to take additional measures, and make sure that the alternate procedure he comes up with is at least as safe as the lockout-tagout.
Here are some ways to prevent accidents through adequate compliance with machine guarding as well as lockout-tagout:
Lockout-Tagout: This is considered the most effective and almost foolproof step in machine safety at the workplace. Locking out equipment in the proper manner can help prevent many workplace accidents. Adhering to the lockout-tagout process specific to the equipment can help bring the machinery down to zero energy state.
Once this is achieved, the danger of machinery movement or the possibility of re-energization to the extent that it can cause harm is eliminated. When the equipment attains a zero-energy level, a qualified employee can service any part of the unit safely.
Machine-Guarding: In cases where lockout-tagout is not feasible, the company might decide to eliminate energy sources altogether. Putting in custom machine guarding can effectively prevent employees from exposure to energy sources during minor maintenance work or while operating the unit.
For machine-guarding to be successful, it is essential that the employees, as well as the employer wholly, comprehend its utility along with the limitations. Design and installation of machine guarding should be such that it prevents unexpected motion.
Injuries due to Entanglement with Rotating Machines
Some injuries such as vehicle accidents, repetitive motion injuries, and violent acts are a routine occurrence in the workplace. Categorized as a serious injury, machine entanglement tops the list of injuries affecting a large number of employees annually.
Machine entanglement related injuries are commonplace in factories which deploy heavy machinery. It is possible for shoes, clothing, and fingers to get caught in machinery. Risks are high when the employer fails to provide adequate training to the employees to prevent this occurrence.
Hair and clothing are typically involved in such entanglement accidents as these can easily get caught in the machinery. The employer must ensure that workers do not wear loose clothing when they are operating in the vicinity of such equipment. Employers need to put in place better means of communication and emergency stop mechanisms in the equipment that poses a risk of entanglement.
Safety Tips for Working with Rotating Machinery
- Take off all jewelry prior to the machine operation.
- Ensure that protective gear such as boots, gloves, and sleeves are all tight-fitting.
- The area around the moving machinery must be free of clutter such as boxes, liquid spills, and crates to avoid the risk of slipping or tumbling.
- Switch off machinery before approaching it for cleaning or maintenance.
- Never wear loose clothing.
- If there are any co-workers in proximity to the machine who are not entrusted with managing the equipment, get them to stay clear of the spot, especially when starting up the machine.
- Do not attempt to step over parts in motion.
- When the equipment is new, there is a need for adequate training as well as supervision.
- Do not wear long coats or scarves even when the weather is cold or when working in any kind of cold conditions.
- Workers with long or flowing hair should tie it up and if possible, use a snug head covering.
Safety Tips for Working with Injection Molding
- Ensure that there is no water or oil on the floor near the equipment.
- Refrain from horseplay or shouting.
- Don’t use the equipment until you receive instructions on how to operate it and all safety devices.
- Be sure to instantly report all injuries to your superior.
- Always use safety glasses and wear shoes.
- Ensure that all safety devices are fully functional before you start to use the machine.
- The work area and platform should be clean at all times.
- If you come across any open junction boxes, oil leaks, bare wires, water leaks, or open receptacles, bring these to the notice of your supervisor.
- Even minor hazards ought to be reported to your supervisor.
- If you see that any safety equipment damaged, inoperative, or missing, be sure to inform your supervisor instantly and refrain from using the machinery.
- Utilize safety devices that are provided. Do not change, bypass, or in any way make inoperative any of the safety devices or equipment.
- Ensure that all equipment and tools you use are in fine shape.
- Do not block fire exits, any emergency equipment, or fire extinguishers.
- Directions on the setup sheet must be adhered to without any unauthorized deviations when performing mold setup.
- Ensure your back is straight and lift with your legs when handling heavy things. Seek help or inform your supervisor if the load is extremely heavy.
- Hydraulic-oil level and temperature must be accurate.
- Ensure proper settings on pressure gauges.
- Maintain mold and barrel temperatures. Inform your supervisor if there are deviations.
- Do not climb a machine that is running.
- Ensure that the nozzle tip fits snugly into the mold prior to starting.
- Check for compatibility of materials in use when switching materials or expelling material from the plasticizing cylinder. You can get this information from your supervisor.
- Before the start of every shift, ensure that the equipment operates fine and molding parameters are appropriately defined.
- Seek your supervisor’s advice in case of any doubt.
- Keep in mind caution and danger signs at all times.
- Make sure that appropriate lockout procedures have been adhered to before you work on the equipment or between plates.
- No material must remain in the mold. Detach the sprue and molded bits before the machine is shut down.
- Turn off the machine whenever you leave.
- When shutting down the machine, ensure that no plastic matter remains in a plasticizing cylinder that has been heated to operating temperature.
Adhering to these guidelines and adopting safety measures can help you avoid possible injuries at the workplace with injection molding and rotating machines.
Watch YouTube Video: Safety Precautions in Operating Injection Molding Machines. This video shows the basic understanding of handling injection molding machines such as rotational molding machine.
Employer Obligations in California for Recording and Reporting Injuries
The employers in California are required to report all serious illnesses, injuries as well as fatalities to Cal/OSHA within eight hours of the occurrence of the incident.
If the employer has stored records of various worksites at a central location, they are required to ensure that every worksite has the telephone number and contact address of that centralized storage location.
Workers who do not make at least a weekly visit to the work location that displays the “Annual Summary” record of all workplace injuries, they should be provided with a copy of the annual summary by mail or in person. For more information about employer responsibilities in California, click here.
Injection Molding Machine Accident Lawyers in Sacramento
I’m Ed Smith, an injection molding machine accident lawyer in Sacramento. Accidents involving machinery can result in life-changing disabilities or death. If you or someone you love has been injured in an injection molding machine accident, call me at 916-584-9355 for a free consultation.
I’ve been helping clients in Sacramento and throughout Northern California for 36 years with personal injury and wrongful death cases. I have the expertise to assist you with your accident and hold the negligent party responsible for your injuries as well as help you obtain workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.
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