Man, Machine and Environment

Safety Devices Grow Up to Be More Than an On/Off Switch

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Machine safety is about keeping workers out of harm’s way and keeping machines from harming themselves or the products they produce. In the U.S., OSHA is the primary organization that sets rules for machine safety. To be in line with OSHA requirements at their basic levels, employers should comply with the following rules.

  • Rotating and moving equipment parts and pointed objects, such as fan blades or power saws, should be guarded from contact with workers.
  • Machinery, pits, holes and hazardous procedures must be sufficiently guarded.
  • Metal components of electrical equipment must be bonded and grounded.
  • Electrical equipment that creates flames, sparks, arcs or molten metal should be enclosed and placed far from combustible substances.
  • Guards should be placed on chains and gears.
  • Machinery should be maintained and kept clean and secure.
  • Emergency stop buttons should be red in color.

As globalization has increased, other standards, driven mostly by the European community, can cause some confusion among U.S. machine builders and add costs to machines headed to markets overseas. Clearly, machine builders must consider safety requirements in the initial design phase of the product. It no longer can be an afterthought.

There are an ever-increasing number of products on the market to aid safer machine design. Safety networks have been introduced and, as Joe Lazzara, president and CEO of Scientific Technologies says, “The newest versions of safety networks have integrated the safety and control system as one common unit. There’s no need for a separate safety bus or safety PLC. This saves costs in design, materials and installation. There are safety networks on the board—all adopted from existing control networks—with safety functions added on through extended system architecture and hardware. The evolution of the safety bus networks has spurred new developments in intelligent safety devices with improved diagnostics.”

One requirement for these new devices is that they are easy to use much like the old on/off switch. With reduced plant personnel, the devices should be easy to commission and easy to troubleshoot. The products that follow are a sample of safety devices on the market today that can reduce risks to men, machines and the environment.

Just Stop It

Family of emergency stop (e-stop) switches with integrated Safety at Work (SaW) functionality is anchored by the AS-Interface and mounts in field or panel-mount applications. Both are available in high-intensity, wide-angle, illuminated versions, as well as non-illuminated versions. The field-mountable version eliminates all wiring to eliminate the possibility of incorrectly wiring the e-stop switch.
Pepperl + Fuchs
330/425-3555

Tensioning Device

Series S900 tensioning device works with the company’s family of emergency cable-pull wire switch installation accessories. It is designed to speed the installation of emergency-pull switches by replacing the turnbuckle and most of the wire clamps. The device has an onboard wire clamp and an anti-slip design to minimize the need for readjustments.
Schmersal
914/347-4775

More Than Just On/Off

SM enabling switch is a single-handed pendant station that complies with safety standards NFPA 79, ANSI/RIA R15.06-19999 for industrial robots and robot systems, ANSI B11, European Machinery Directive and Canadian Safety Standards. It has two-position (off-on or dead-man switch) and three-position (off-on-off or live-man switch) versions. There also is a vibratory feedback and key selector switch. The switch can be configured to include LED displays, a mini joystick, a key-operated switch and more.
Euchner USA
315/701-0315

Cut Power

UL 508-listed Square D MD50 motor disconnect switch provides safe and quick power connections in industrial facilities and prevents process interruption by cutting power to a motor if necessary, while not affecting the main circuit. IEC 60309-compliant technology helps the Square D brand MD50 increase safety on a plant floor by making it virtually impossible to plug in a power receptacle having different voltage and ampere ratings, while a mechanical interlock forces an operator to insert a plug before power can be turned on and to turn power off before the plug can be removed.
Schneider Electric
847/397-2600

Holding Force

D4JL IP67-rated, locking safety door switches provide holding force of 3,000 N (674 lb) for safely locking heavy doors. Two safety circuits and two monitor contacts provide an array of monitoring patterns including monitoring the open/closed status of the door and the status of the lock. Models are available with rear release buttons that allow workers to unlock the switch inside the protected area and exit the hazardous areas.
Omron Scientific Technologies
510/608-3400

Warning Light

Signal50 50-mm, CE-compliant warning tower lights indicate when a particular defined action should be initiated. Choose from 100 combinations of lenses, voltages and illumination types including incandescent, LED, strobe, flashing and more.

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