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Safeguard Yourself! Best Practices for Press Brakes

Safeguard Yourself! Best Practices for Press Brakes
Posted April 1, 2019

Press brakes are essential to keeping fabrication work moving flawlessly and providing the best in finished products. However, if operated incorrectly, press brakes can become very dangerous and result in injury.

In 2013, the Ontario Ministry of Labour reported that of all the orders issued by the Ministry, 17 per cent were a result of machine guarding and lockout violations.   

Employers' responsibility for machine guarding violations

To avoid machine-related accidents, employers have a responsibility under the  Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and Industrial Establishments to protect their workers. OHSA also stipulates responsibilities of employers and supervisors in ensuring safety in the workplace. 

It is therefore vital for metal fabrication companies to invest in the safety of press brake operators to avoid the risk of injury associated with machine guarding violations and accidents. Here are three ways Vineland Manufacturing ensures safety while operating a press brake:

Point-of-contact guarding

A new technology in protection for press brake operators is laser active opto-electronic protective device (AOPD). This device receives and transmits laser light between the punch and the die and allows the operator to stand closer to the machine. AOPD is the ideal protection for when we receive manufacturing requests which involve handling smaller materials, enabling our operators to remain safe when the machine is moving at a high speed.

The laser system also has the ability to stop abruptly in the case of an accident. If a finger slips into the working area, the laser beam will detect it and stop the motion in a matter of microseconds. For this reason, most current press brake operators opt for the AOPD machine guarding. Some advanced press brakes have dual laser beams; this helps improve efficiency and safety since you don't have to slow down the motion before the mute, in the way you would with single-beam AOPDs.

Light curtains

As a standard set up would go,  Light curtains have both transmitter and a receiver placed on the sides of the press brake bed. These work to emit infrared light beams in front of the work area of the active press brake. Think of it as your buddy holding the flashlight for you while you fix what’s under the hood of your car, only this time it’s done with absolute precision and intention! In the interest of safety, the machine stops automatically should the tool opening gap reach a 6 mm gap. The operator would then use the foot pedal to close the punch onto the material being bended slowly.

Light curtains can be either programmable or non – programmable, and turning off the light curtain can be quite unsafe for the machine operator.

At Vineland Manufacturing, our supervisors understand when to use a combination of both light curtains and AOPD to safeguard our staff against press brake injuries. 

Proper Training

It’s essential for press brake operators to be properly trained to ensure safe and effective machining services. Vineland Manufacturing invests in proper training to equip workers with safety skills while operating press breaks. 

Operators are trained to report any risk factors associated with a press brake machine and we also provide updates to training to enhance operating knowledge. The better an operator understands the machine, the safer he or she is, including everyone around them.

If you would like to know more about safety in metal fabrication, please speak to one of our machining experts at Vineland Manufacturing Ltd.

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