Toolbox Topic: Hand Placement and Pinch Points
Hand placement is important when working around machinery and equipment. Injuries due to being caught in a pinch point can be painful and permanent.
“Pinch point” means any point other than the point of operation at which it is possible for a part of the body to be caught between the moving parts of a press or auxiliary equipment or between moving and stationary parts of a press or auxiliary equipment or between the material and moving part or parts of the press or auxiliary equipment.
Or we could just say a pinch point is a point where a body part can get caught, resulting in amputations, cuts, or crushing injuries.
The Industrial Revolution and Conveyor Belts
The industrial revolution kicked off an era of innovation and mechanization. Output levels of humans increased exponentially with the help of machines and equipment. But this newfound production also created the possibility of severe injuries.
One of the early innovations was the conveyor belt. No one really knows who invented the conveyor belt. Regardless, it changed entire industries.
Conveyor belts have been used to move all sorts of things including, grain, flour, coffee, and even sushi!
Early conveyor systems were simple flat wooden beds with a belt running over them. They used hand cranks and pulleys. The belts were made of leather. Later these leather belts would be replaced with canvas or rubber.
Early Uses for Conveyor Systems
Around 1790 the first conveyors appeared in the flour milling industry, as evidenced in Oliver Evans’ original flour mill design.
Farmers used short-distance conveyor belts to move grain. Shipping ports used conveyors to move agricultural products onto ships.
In 1804, the British Navy started using steam-powered conveyor belts for baking biscuits. This new technology would make feeding the world’s largest navy far more efficient.
Heavy-Duty Conveyor Belts and the Industrial Revolution
Vulcanized rubber was invented in 1844 and made conveyor belts much more resistant to temperature changes.
Thomas Robins invented the heavy-duty conveyor belt in 1892 to carry coal and ore for Thomas Edison’s company, the Edison Ore-Milling Company. In 1900 his heavy-duty conveyor belt won prizes at the Paris, Saint Louis, and the Pan-American Expositions. After much success, Robins formed the Robins Conveyor Belt Company. It still exists today as ThyssenKrupp Robins.
In1907, a German Coffee company had a conveyor system that could process 13,000 pounds of coffee a day.
Henry Ford’s Assembly Line and Sushi
In 1913 Ford Motor Company was the first car manufacturer to use a conveyor system for their assembly line. Henry Ford said he got the idea after seeing how they improved efficiency and productivity in slaughterhouses. It would take five years to upgrade his factories. Before the upgrade, the Model-T took around 12 hours to manufacture, but with his new assembly lines, it would only take about 90 minutes.
Sometime in 1958, the first revolving-sushi restaurant opened in Osaka. Using a conveyor the owner was able to save on wait staff and dramatically cut prices. Patrons simply grabbed what they wanted right off the line! https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2001-sep-02-me-41354-story.html
Today’s Conveyor Systems
Today conveyor belts have been adapted for various uses across all sorts of industries, including automotive, manufacturing, food processing, bottling, canning, printing, paper goods, textiles, logistics, and warehousing.
- Cuts, Lacerations, and Punctures were 44% of those injuries.
- Crushes came in at 23%!
Safety Tip #1 Inspections
Inspect machinery and equipment before beginning work and identify any pinch points. Verify guards are in place and haven’t been tampered with or removed.
Safety Tip #2 Guards & LOTO
Guards should never be removed unless you are making repairs that require you to remove a guard. Make sure you follow LOTO and the equipment is de-energized. Lastly, block equipment to protect against unintentional start-up due to stored energy.
Safety #3 Situational Awareness
Pay attention! Injuries can happen when you are distracted. Be aware when any part of your body is near moving parts or parts that have the potential to move.
Safety Tip #4 PPE
Be sure you wear the appropriate PPE for the task. The proper gloves could reduce injury severity if you are caught in the line of fire.
Safety Tip #5 Other Types of Injuries
Remember, it’s not just the potential for hand injuries, but any part of your body could get caught in a pinch point. Long hair and jewelry can be dangerous in the wrong situation. Wedding bands can be potentially hazardous by getting caught on equipment. Fortunately, many silicone-type wedding bands are available on the market today.