Safety Industry News

Protecting Workers from Automated Machine Operations

In the ever-evolving industrial world, new technologies are constantly putting old safety rules out of date. Even old-fashioned processes such as stretch wrapping have become more technologically advanced and are often automated today. While OSHA doesn't currently have a specific standard referencing automated stretch wrapping operations, broader OSHA regulations should apply.

Perhaps it is no surprise that "machine guarding" (specifically, 29 CFR 1910.212) consistently falls into the top 10 of most frequently cited OSHA violations on a yearly basis. When new safety regulations are introduced every year, it is easy to understand why this commonly misunderstood topic is more confusing than ever. The multitude of robotic applications and the growth of robot use and automation in all industries only enhance the challenge.

Simple stretch wrap machines are nearly as ubiquitous to loading dock areas as dock levelers, seals, or shelters. As with almost all other industrial processes, what began as a manual operation (the arduous task of bending, pulling, and moving stretch wrap around a pallet) is now commonly automated. 

(a) Each employer:

(1) Shall furnish to each of his employees employment a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees; and

          (2) Shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.

(b) Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act, which are applicable to his own actions and conduct. 

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