Stackers/Palletizers — Safety Comes First

By Erik Cagle

Senior Editor

The recent, unfortunate death of a worker making repairs to a stacking machine brought to light the recurring theme of ‘safety above all else.’

We are fortunate to live in an age where automation has made life a lot easier in the printing plant. Much of the grunt work has been eradicated and, in some cases, the need for human intervention has been erased. Manufacturers have made great strides to enhance performance and ensure optimal operator safety. The pressroom is a much safer place than it was 20, 10, even five years ago.

But safety doesn’t end with the equipment manufacturer. Both printer and operator share in the responsibility of showing proper respect for safety guidelines—those set forth by the manufacturer, OSHA, CE, etc.—such as proper lockout/tagout procedures and other procedural steps associated in human intervention with heavy machinery.

“Education is the number one thing,” notes Wayne Pagel, president of KEPES Inc. “Unfortunately, it’s something that has to be forced on a lot of people. Most times, when you hear about accidents, it is because the machine hasn’t been properly de-energized. It takes more than turning off the electrical power. When you de-energize the machine, you have to turn off all sources of power. It could be electrical, pneumatic, even something under spring pressure.

“There have been so many improvements in the safety-related engineering of the equipment, that people aren’t always thinking when they turn the electrical power off on a 20-year-old machine. They can’t assume that all sources of energy have been removed.”

Pagel notes that he is seeing more requests for pallet-to-pallet operation. “People want to feed directly from a pallet rather than having to load the machine and, consequently, they want to deliver a stack directly to the pallet rather than going into some type of vise that requires operator intervention to remove the pallet or remove the stock and place it into another operation. There are more applications where they want to go pallet-to-pallet.”

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