A study has been published on the safety of workers operating or performing maintenance on plastic injection moulding machines that interact with peripherals such as robots, conveyors and granulators. By analysing accident reports, the researchers were able to determine the relevant risks and consider ways of reducing or eliminating them. Collecting this information helped the researchers arrive at a more concrete assessment of the reality faced by workers in the plastics processing industry who are exposed to hazardous situations that can sometimes be fatal.
The accident analysis highlighted a number of shortcomings to do with the strict enforcement of procedures, the bypassing of protective devices, familiarity with procedures and taking worker needs into account when designing and applying risk reduction measures.
In defining best work practices to ensure worker safety in the mould area of an injection moulding machine, the researchers determined three characteristic risk reduction measures:
- the use of a “partial lockout-tagout” procedure to prevent start-up by a third party;
- the use of safety functions, such as interlocking movable guards with or without guard locking, pressure-sensitive mats for detecting whether someone is present, and emergency stop controls;