Inadequately guarded palletising machines can injure workers
Palletising machines which automatically stack cartons of goods onto pallets are common in manufacturing workplaces but can injure workers. The machines present a risk to workers when cartons become jammed during the automated palletising process and the operator has to manually dislodge the jam. There is a risk of workers becoming trapped in the working machinery and the force needed to release jammed cartons can create a risk of an MSD.
If there are no secure platforms around the palletising area, operators may have to reach across the pallet to the cartons or climb the machine. Reaching across the pallet to the cartons could increase the risk of injury and climbing the machine creates a risk of slipping and falling from height.
Eliminate or reduce the risk of injury
As an employer, you have a duty to provide plant and systems of work that are safe and free of risks to health, so far as is reasonably practicable. You should consider the following risk controls to eliminate or reduce the risk of injury from palletising machines:
- Work with the carton supplier and the equipment manufacturer to identify and manage the causes of carton jamming.
- Install interlocked perimeter fencing or a pressure-sensing system between the fixed-height platform and the palletiser. This guarding ensures the palletiser will not work if an operator reaches into the machine.
- Install interlocked guarding such as light curtains. Also called light screens or optical guards, light curtains can reduce risks by stopping the movement of hazardous parts of the palletising machine. Light curtains work by transmitting light beams to a sensor and the palletising machine stops whenever an object such as a jammed carton or employee blocks the light beams.
- Ensure the surface of the floor around the palletiser is of a non-slip material to minimise the risk of a slip.
- Use suitably designed push or pull tools to reduce forward reach distances where the employee cannot easily access the blocked or jammed items.
- Ensure your employees and contractors receive training on how to clear jams safely, and provide information, instruction and supervision, as necessary.
When deciding how to control risks, you must consult affected employees and health and safety representatives, if there are any.