Securing machines to prevent accidents
Simple preventative measures make all the difference when protecting workers' hands and fingers
Workers should never insert their hands into the belt and pulley system of motors, especially when it is in motion.
In fact, the nip point where the belt meets the pulley presents a potential amputation hazard.
An incident involving a nip point hazard resulted in a worker having his fingers amputated.
The worker was operating a metal printing line that had a built-in industrial oven for drying printed sheets.
As there was a problem with the oven temperature, the worker went up to the oven's top to check whether its motors were running smoothly.
He was wearing a pair of cotton gloves at that time.
While checking, the loose glove on the worker's right hand was caught by the in-running nip point between the motor's belt and pulley.
The moving machinery pulled in his right hand, crushing his index finger and severing his ring finger. His middle finger was also broken.
Investigations by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) revealed that the motor's pulley and belt system and transmission shaft were not securely guarded.
Mr Sebastian Tan, Director of Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate, MOM said: "Employers should ensure that equipment with motors or rotating parts have sufficient safeguards to prevent workers from coming into contact with any dangerous parts.
"All machines must also be switched off when workers are conducting checks or making minor repairs.
Employers should ensure that equipment with motors or rotating parts have sufficient safeguards to prevent workers from coming into contact with any dangerous parts.Mr Sebastian Tan, Director of Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate
"Such preventive measures are simple and easy to implement, but makes all the difference in protecting the workers' hands and fingers."
In 2017, 125 workers lost hands or fingers while working with machinery or power tools.
Entanglement hazards are a contributing factor of such incidents.
Entanglement may arise when a worker's body part, such as his hand, or loose items worn by him come into direct contact with a moving machine part such as gear wheels or rolling mills.
Such mechanical hazards, which pose as a workplace safety risk, can be managed through the following methods:
Each machine must have adequate safeguards to protect operators and other employees in the immediate working area from hazards created by in-running nip points and rotating parts.
Employers can use safeguards such as machine guarding, barriers and access controls.
Workers should also report any missing machine guards to their supervisor before operating the machine.
LOCK-OUT TAG-OUT (LOTO) PROCEDURE
Simply turning off the electrical supply of a machine is insufficient.
Employers should ensure the LOTO procedure is implemented to prevent other workers from turning a machine back on unknowingly.
A LOTO procedure ensures that all hazardous energy sources of a machine are isolated, disconnected or discharged prior to commencing work on the machine.
Workers should follow the five steps of the LOTO procedure during machine inspection, cleaning, repair and maintenance.
- Notify all affected workers about machine shutdown.
- Shut down machine and ensure all moving parts have stopped completely.
- Disconnect all energy sources to the machine using energy-isolating devices such as manually operated circuit breakers, isolating switches or valves.
- Apply a lock-out device, such as a padlock, with a warning tag over each energy-isolating device to ensure that all hazardous energy sources cannot be restored unexpectedly or accidentally.
- Check that the machine is unable to start. Ensure that the lock-out device is in use and effective.
Stay safe at work with SnapSAFE
Under the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Act, employers are required to manage risks at work, while employees must adhere to safe work practices. Good WSH management can improve productivity and efficiency, which in turn helps companies enhance their corporate image and business competitiveness.
This includes ensuring safety measures are taken for any machinery, equipment, article or process used at the workplace.
Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $500,000 for the first offence.
Spot unsafe activities around your neighbourhood? Want to let the Manpower Ministry know about an unsafe practice at your workplace?
Snap the photos on your mobile phone and send them to the SnapSAFE app. All contributions are secret.