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Light curtains could help curb food factory accidents

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Light curtains could help curb food factory accidents

April 15
10:01 2013

Light curtains could help address food factory accidents involving lack of appropriate safety guards on equipment, although they are not a foolproof solution, according to Dr Martin Kidman, Sick machinery safety product specialist.

Light curtains are a safety measure that work by created sheets of light using multiple beams that acts as an invisible ‘trip’ device guarding equipment. Interrupting these beams sends a signal to machinery that can either shut it down completely or limit its movement.

Kidman told FoodProductionDaily.com that light guards had been used in the food industry for about 60 years, but could help prevent recent accidents that have caused serious injuries to production line staff.

In many cases, such incidents occur because firms modify or remove guards that are installed to prevent access to hazardous parts of equipment, in order to make machinery more accessible for maintenance.

Safeguarding staff

Light curtains could make machinery accessible while at the same time safeguarding staff who were tinkering with it while it is in operation, said Kidman.

“A light curtain may be used as an alternative to a physical guard and can increase productivity and availability whilst still providing protection comparable to that of a mechanical guard.”

However, he stressed it was not suitable for all applications. For example, for some machines there is a built-in time delay between when a light curtain is tripped and when active machinery parts stop. This would be no good in the case of, for example, bottling machines, which take some time to slow to a halt, he told this site.

‘Things to be considered’

“A number of things do need to be considered before opting for a safety light curtain: any parts emitted from the machine; the stopping time of the machine; the mounting of the light curtain.”

Sick has launched its deTec4 Core, which it claims has no blind zones, offering optimium positioning and protection against unsafe access.”The deTec4 is very easy to install and commission with an automatic range measurement of up to 10 metres,” said Kidman.

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