Safety

Defeating Machine Safety Features a Recipe for Disaster

July 18, 2014

july-safety-blogWorkplace safety is a major concern for the makers of manufacturing equipment and for machine tool distributors and automation specialists like Gosiger. Modern machine tools are equipped with various safety components that prevent users from accessing critical areas while the machine is operating. Likewise, automation systems using robots and other loading/unloading devices employ safety cages with access doors that are locked during machining cycles, light curtains that stop robot or machine activity when the beam is interrupted, and other safety precautions.

Obviously the most important reason to include these safety measures is to protect the machine operator and others from serious injury. Additionally, federal (OSHA) and state regulatory agencies require safety devices, and for good reason. In the days before such safety measures were common, machinists could be seriously injured due to fatigue, distraction or carelessness while operating easily accessible equipment. These incidents often caused debilitating harm including loss of limbs and, sometimes, life.

In line with this concern for worker safety, Gosiger technical service professionals insure that all safety mechanisms operate properly on any machine tool or automation system they install or perform maintenance on. Unfortunately, they sometimes discover equipment that has been modified to circumvent the factory installed safety devices. When the Gosiger service technicians discover these modifications they are required to restore the safety measures to OEM specifications before leaving the premises. Gosiger then sends a letter to the machine owner advising them of the issue.

Typically the machine operators make these attempts to defeat the safety locks so they can access the machine tool while it is in motion to fine-tune setups, tooling offsets or other adjustments. Some have even gone so far as to install a switch on the machine that overrides the safety lock.

Considering that modern machine tools move very quickly in multiple directions and often incorporate automatic tool changers and other accessories that also move inside the machine, it’s very easy to become injured or to damage the machine or work piece by attempting to make adjustments while any part of the machine is operating.

The fact is none of this tampering with safety devices is necessary. There are abundant accessories, software and control APPs available that can perform these adjustments inside the machine tool without the need to place the operator in harms way. And, in many cases, operators simply need to be trained to properly handle these issues without resorting to defeating the safety measures built into the machine tools and automation systems.

Gosiger can help with proper technical service, training and advice on how to safely perform virtually any machine tool activity. Give them a call today.

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