Press Brake Safety
Increasing your business’ press brake safety should be a high priority for all mechanical shops and factories. Without proper press break safety, your employees are at a greater risk for injury which in turn could affect your companies’ productivity. Help prevent costly mistakes by providing the proper press brake safety features and devices.
During 2017, 47 press brake injuries were reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) one being fatal. When your press brake is set up and running correctly, and your operator is experienced, operating a press brake may seem like a relatively straightforward process. However, press brake injuries do happen to even the most experienced press brake operators. Press brake injury prevention must be considered a priority in order to keep your press brake operators and other employees safe while on the job.
Press Brake Injuries: Why are Press Brakes so Dangerous?
Typically, press brake operators are not required to place their hands or other body parts near the point of operation. However, exposure to the point of operation injuries can still occur. The access to the point of operation whether in front of the machine or behind can make the use of a press brake very dangerous. Operators may also find themselves reaching around safety devices at the end of the machine increasing their risk for press brake injuries. Additionally, with use of any press brake, there are pinch points and hazardous motions that are created by the back-gauge system. Avoiding these common danger zones are essential to keep any press brake operator safe.
In addition to the above-mentioned danger zones, press brake operating controls and the size of metal can also put the press brake operator at risk. The press brake operating controls, such as the foot pedal can cause the press break to cycle causing injury to the operator accidentally. Additionally, when forming large pieces of metal, the press brake operator must hold the stock while cycling the press brake with a foot pedal. Once the stroke begins, the stock can move creating additional risk for injury.
Furthermore, press brake dangers can also come from using a refurbished or used press brake. Used or refurbished press brakes may be cheaper to obtain however leave many questions as to whether the controls and safety system are fully operational. And lastly, press brakes rely heavily on the operator. An operator’s behavior is not always predictable which can also increase the risk of press brake injuries. Lacked safety standards, careless behavior, and inattentiveness is a recipe for disaster.
Press Brake Injury Prevention
OSHA’s machinery and machine guarding regulations (29 CFR 1910 Subpart O) require one or more guarding methods to protect operators and other employees from exposure to hazardous machine energy during the operation of press brakes.
Metal Tech Controls, believes safety should be the number one priority for all factories and mechanical shops. Running large equipment without the proper safeguards can not only negatively impact your employees but also your business. Prevent a costly mistake by utilizing one or more of our press brake injury prevention safety devices.
Press Brake Injury Prevention Safety Devices
- Laser Sentry
- Press Brake Guards
- Press Brake Sheet Follower
- Light Curtains
- Press Brake Two-Hand Control Device
- Presence Sensing Device
- Foot Pedals
- Automatic Stroke Stop System
- Fly-Off Prevention Dies
- A Two-Person Control Device
- Stepped Stopper Fingers
Metal Tech Controls products are in full accordance with OSHA standards and guidelines. However, and most importantly, we build our products for comprehensive operator protection striving to prevent and avoid workplace press brake injuries.
All press brake injuries cannot be avoided entirely. However, by utilizing our press brake safety devices and ensuring your operators are fully trained you and your employees can rest assured that the proper safety precautions have been used to the fullest.
Contact Metal Tech Controls Today
Looking for more information or ways to prevent press brake injuries at your workplace contact us today.
Press Brake Operator Protection
Press Brake Operator Injury
Most press brake injuries occur when the operator gets their fingers or hand trapped between the dies during the fast downward motion of the ram. The tragic and most ironic thing is; the press brake operator, once trapped, in shock and experiencing extreme pain, reacts by making the machine continue through the stroke in what they believe is the only way to escape. Often this causes amputation by crushing, resulting in bone and tissue trauma that is medically not repairable. This is why using the best press brake operator protection becomes soo important.
Light Curtain Example
Consider this. If the fast downward motion of the ram could be guarded by light curtains until the upper die is just 1/4 inch from the top of the material, the ram forced to stop. The light curtains muted (ignored) and the press brake operator required to consciously re-initiate the downward motion of the ram at slow speed. With the press brake operator protection in place the part could then be formed safely and without accidents like the one in the above example.
Ram Movement and Mute Points
Ram movement during press brake operation can be generally described as fast downward travel until the tool is just about to begin forming the part. Then slower travel through the bend and then fast travel to the top stop position.
When the ram is traveling down (for up acting presses) at maximum speed, the ability of the machine’s ram stopping mechanism is drastically reduced as compared to the stopping time during the slow speed forming portion of the stroke.
Unfortunately, not many part shapes can be formed using the above example. The real world is not so flexible. But if there could be mute points higher than 1/4 inch, so that parts could be inserted into the die area after the ram reaches the mute point, then any configuration could be formed. Take it one step further; if the ram could be controlled to stop at programmed mute points on a given sequence of strokes, then the press brake operator could form complex shapes in the same manner as he/she would use a back gauge!
The only difference in the above operation with press brake operator protection in place is that the operator inserts the part into the die when the ram reaches the mute point instead of when the ram is at the top of the stroke. There is no lost production time and the benefit of the press brake operator protection helps keeps the operator safe from injuries.
Press Brake Operator Protection by Metal Tech Controls
We take press brake safety to the next level here at Metal Tech Controls. Our goal is to prevent injuries in the workplace. Our products are OSHA compliant. To get started today please contact us or give us a call at (800-516-5516).
1. Productivity Increase
The productivity increase is very noticeable within benefits of press brake safety devices. Not only do our devices deliver on safety but they can also vastly improve the workplace due to an increase in productivity. Our devices all have different reasons for accomplishing an increase in productivity.
Laser Sentry – The laser sentry system, is a presence sensing device which features laser guides while using the precision of lasers directly surrounding the die. If an unusual object is detected, the laser technology will retract. This increases productivity allowing simple corrections to be made on the fly and maintaining consistent workflow.
Light Curtains – Light curtains are also a type of presence sensing device used to protect the operator from making contact with any part of the press brake. No restraints, straps or physical barriers need to be used. Instead, a stream of light is used to protect the operator. With there being no restraints, straps, or physical barriers it saves time in manpower as well as speeding up production.
Foot Pedals – Foot pedals are used in connection with other types of safety guards to provide safety by serving as an emergency stopping provision in case other safety features may fail. Leaving the operator’s hands free, they significantly reduce the risk of injury while speeding up productivity.
While there are several other benefits of press brake safety devices, you can find additional devices on our Press Brake Safety Devices page, not all of them necessarily increase productivity or decrease productivity. However, they all provide additional safety features. Check out that page if you are interested in additional safety devices that are not necessarily related to productivity.
2. Employee Morale
Productivity increasing can be a big reason that employee morale would begin to increase within a workplace, but the benefits of press brake safety devices will also increase employee morale making employees more likely to be confident in the safety of where they are working. Productivity increase and employee morale can work off of each other quite well. While the laser sentry allows a speed up of productivity by making corrections on the fly or maintaining consistent workflow, employee morale will also increase allowing for a greater sense of accomplishment by the end of the day. On top of that, comes a peace of mind knowing that your safety is increased by knowing if foreign objects are detected, the laser technology will retract immediately. Similarly, the light curtains allow for a greater sense of accomplishment due to the increase in productivity. No restraints, straps, physical barriers, and less manpower will lead to a more satisfied employee.
Aside from the productivity and morale relation, there is a satisfaction that will come with less strain put on employees during manual labor which is one of the other benefits of press brake safety devices. With the light curtains requiring less manpower, that will not only save time but it will also cause less strain on your employees in the long run. If an employee is coming home less tired and less strained then they will be more satisfied and will more than likely have a higher outlook on the company. Another example is the press brake sheet follower. This is an additional safety device that keeps operators safe when working with large pieces of metal. It is designed to guide heavy pieces of metal safely. This will cause employees less strain on their bodies by only having to operate the hydraulic arms that hold the metal in place. An additional safety device that could potentially increase employee morale would be a two-person control device. A two-person control device requires two operators to work together decreasing the risk of operator error which in turn might allow employees to feel safer knowing they are not the only one working on the device.
Employee morale is defined as the job satisfaction, outlook, and feelings of well-being an employee has within a workplace setting. The satisfaction, outlook, and feelings of well-being will all be improved if the press brake safety devices are installed and put to good use. Whether it is the relation of the productivity increase creating a sense of accomplishment within the employee or the reduction of strain put on the employees through less demanding manual labor, there are many benefits of press brake safety devices that will be sure to increase employee morale significantly.
3. Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Compliance
OSHA standards are important for workplace safety. OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The US Congress found OSHA in 1970 as part of the US Department of Labor. The goal was to establish a regulatory standard for workplaces with potentially hazardous or dangerous environments. Its guidelines protect both employees and employers from accidents and injuries in the workplace. The OSHA enforces standards for the workplace, and seeks to inform and educate about the risks involved with using various machinery and equipment. The benefit here is that it validates the benefits of press brake safety devices. OSHA giving a letter of approval and stating that it is effective and it reliably prevents worker injury completely validates the productivity increase and employee morale increase. Without the validation of OSHA, the above 2 benefits of productivity increase and employee morale increase could simply be exaggerated or made up even. But with OSHA, the benefits of press brake safety devices become official.
OSHA’s Letter of Approval
According to OSHA’s letter of approval for our presence sensing devices:
“A laser guarding device may be considered an electronic safety device, pursuant to 1910.212(a)(1), and would not be in violation of 1910.212(a)(3) [in conjunction with a hydraulic press brake], if it effectively and reliably prevents worker injury by controlling the zone of danger described.”
For full detail, view our OSHA Letter of Approval.
Contact Us About the Benefits of Press Brake Safety Devices
Keeping your employees safe is very important, but you also want those employees to be more productive as well as satisfied. Start taking advantage the benefits of press brake safety devices today by visiting our contact page or giving us a call at 1-800-516-5516
Press Brake Guards
Side and Rear Press Brake Guards
Side and rear press brake guards, also sometimes referred to as ‘end barriers’ or ‘press brake guards’ are a form of press brake safety that have no moving parts. They function by sectioning off certain areas of the die. They are physical barriers put into place to prevent the operator’s hands or any other objects from entering the point of contact at an area where they don’t need to be, even for operational duties.
How Does the Operator Still Do Their Job with Physical Barriers Around the Die?
Press brake guards only section off areas that extend beyond the operator’s work space. Most likely, the operator never needs to access these sectioned off areas for any reason. They only present a risk when uncovered. So, a permanent barrier is necessary.
Why is there Such a Large Area of the Die that the Operator Doesn’t Need to Use?
Dies typically are not manufactured according to the part they will be used for. As a result, many press brakes have points of contact that cover a wider area than necessary for certain jobs. These areas and other areas that must remain protected can be covered by two types of press brake guards. These types are side guards or rear guards.
Press Brake Guards
Side Guards vs Rear Guards for Press Brake Safety
The sides of the machine should protect from objects and hands. But the barriers in place there should be movable. These protect the operator from angles other than being directly in front of the die. Rear press brake guards section off the back gauge and prevent access to the rear of the area of contact. All areas of the machine must observe proper press brake safety measures, including adequate protection for those other than the primary operator.
Side and rear press brake guards are very inexpensive, simple ways to further safeguard your machine safety and ensure the well being of the press brake operator working with it directly or in its vicinity.
A press brake sheet follower or sheet lifter is a device for press brake safety that helps keep operators safe when working with large sheets of metal that may otherwise be difficult to handle. They function by way of hydraulic arms that hold the sheet while it’s being bent by lifting the sheet as the die makes contact, and then lowering after the bend has been made. They aren’t intended to be used with smaller, lighter sheets. For big, heavy sheets however, they protect the operator by allowing them to stand away from the device during operation and activate it with a foot pedal from a safe distance.
Benefits of a Press Brake Sheet Follower
When a bend is made in the metal sheet by the press, the sheet comes up rather abruptly. This creates a danger in addition to the die coming down, because the sheet can come up and make contact with the operator’s face or another part of their body. A press brake sheet follower is not only highly effective for press brake safety purposes, it also helps to limit press brake operator fatigue by supporting the weight of the sheet, thus allowing the operator to work at a steady pace more comfortably.
How a Press Brake Sheet Follower is Set Up
Press brake sheet followers get positioned in front of the machine and can be moved anywhere along the area of contact or can be moved away from the machine quite easily as they are typically on wheels. For use with RPG back gauges, sheet followers may be placed at the interior of the machine for operation.
The rising/lowering platform’s height on a sheet follower may be adjusted to accommodate different jobs and press brakes. Sheet followers may also be accompanied by a slide for easier movement along the area of contact. The slide allows the press brake sheet follower to glide along smoothly, or be moved out of the way with little effort. At the end of this slide may be a “docking” area where the device can be slid and wheeled to, two feet from the die, disconnecting it from the press brake temporarily.
The purpose of a light curtain is to protect the operator from making contact with any part of the press brake that could potentially cause harm during operation. When properly implemented, a light curtain stops the press brake abruptly before the operator can sustain any injuries. There are numerous regulations in place to ensure the effectiveness of light curtains that determine whether or not a system passes inspection. It’s essential to adhere to all of the regulations that coincide with the type of press brake system you operate. Light Curtains also make it possible to use a foot switch instead of a two hand push button station.
How A Light Curtain Provides Press Brake Safety
A light curtain is a type of presence sensing device that doesn’t reduce productivity or delay work because it uses no restraints, straps, or physical barriers. It functions by way of one or more transmitters and receivers. If the stream of light or lasers is broken and the receiver no longer detects it, the machine ceases immediately.
Many light curtains have a floating beam option, individual or multiple infrared beams may be broken by the part being formed. Some light curtains allow up to eight inches of beams to be floated.
Channel Select or Canceling
Beam canceling is an option on some light curtains. Canceling beams allows you to blank out or ignore a given number of the beams. It is a very useful option if used properly and safely. Some light curtains can be programmed to selectively cancel a given number of beams during the forming operation.
The Advantages of a Light Curtain
Light curtains can be highly effective if used properly. Although the initial cost of a light curtain press brake safety system may be much higher than using restraints, physical barriers, and two-handed manual start systems; they allow the production process to operate at full capacity. The savings in manpower time and production speed more than balance the initial cost of a light curtain system.
Functions Must Be Programmed According to OSHA
OSHA stipulates exactly how presence sensing devices of all types must be used in order to pass minimum safety regulations. OSHA standards and regulations include adequate safe distance for the machine they’re used with, software programming, and more.
Press Brake Two Hand Control
A press brake two hand control device is an effective method of protecting the operator’s hands from entering the point of contact and potentially causing injury. It works by forcing the operator to use both hands to initiate the stroke by having two buttons, one on each side of the operator, that must be held down simultaneously in order for the press brake to function. If one button ceases to be pressed, the machine abruptly stops.
Single Stroke Mode
If the machine is running on single stroke mode, the operator must simply hold down both buttons on the press brake two hand control until the stroke is complete. For sequence mode, the operator must hold down both press brake two hand control buttons until the die reaches its designated distance (typically 6 mm depending on specific settings and the size of the workpiece), and then set the workpiece into position. A foot pedal can then be used to complete the process of the stroke.
Press Brake Two Hand Control Instead of a Foot Pedal
A space of 6 mm is too small for the human hand to fit through, thus a foot pedal is adequate for press brake safety for completing the second step. A press brake two hand control device may be used instead of a foot pedal to complete the process of bending the work piece.
Press Brake Two Hand Control Advantages
Press brake two hand control systems are advantageous because they do not require the use of a physical strap on the press brake operator, they’re relatively inexpensive compared to laser systems, and they are effective at protecting workers when used correctly. A downside to this method of press brake safety is that production may be slower than with a light curtain or laser system.
Foot Pedal With a Press Brake Two Hand Control
The use of a foot pedal to finalize the stroke may make the process faster than only using two hand controls for a machine operating in sequence mode depending on the positioning of the press brake safety equipment and the nature of the task. Check OSHA standards for two hand control devices to see how they must be used to ensure sufficient worker protection for your press brake system.
Laser Beam Device
A laser beam device is a highly efficient type of presence sensing device for press brake safety. Laser beam devices are the most modern and eventually cost effective way to fully protect the operator while allowing productivity to flow at maximum capacity. They don’t restrict or hamper the press brake or the press brake operator in any way as long as nothing comes in contact with the stream of laser beams directly in front of and behind the die.
How Does a Laser Beam Device Work?
A stream of laser beams is created by a transmitter on one side and a receiver on other. The stream can vary in length, but typically only covers key areas of risk while other areas that are not dangerous but may be within the lasers’ range can be ‘muted’. Laser beam device systems also incorporate the use of a foot pedal.
Laser Beam Device Object Detection
If the laser beam device detects an object entering the area of contact by stream disruption, the die immediately gets retracted before anyone can possibly be injured. Since there is a beam that passes between the punch and the die, the operator remains protected up to a matter of millimeters.
Laser beams can be used for press brake safety either in parallel rows or in a grid. A grid works the same as a row, detecting disruptions in the stream and immediately ceasing machine operation. Special modes can be programmed in the laser beam device’s software that most effectively protect the operator while not impeding production rates.
Are Laser Beams and Light Curtains for Press Brake Safety the Same?
Light curtains are also presence sensing devices, but they don’t project the same kind of light. A laser beam device can perform far more accurately, allowing operators to perform tasks within very tight spaces safely.
Laser beam devices for press brake safety should be fully OSHA standards compliant when properly installed and used. This includes all of the necessary installation components. Usually, a laser beam device is customizable and should be installed by a qualified electrical/mechanical technician.
Press Brake Foot Pedal
Most press brake safety systems that abide by OSHA standards incorporate a press brake foot pedal in addition to other safeguarding devices, such as light curtains, restraints, or barriers. This acts as an emergency stopping provision in case the other press brake safety measures in place fail to protect the operator or anyone else in the vicinity. There are various types of press brake foot pedal systems, but all of them should include a press brake guard around the device to prevent accidental pressing. The guard can be metal or even plastic, but should be brightly colored so it can easily be differentiated from the color of the floor.
How Does a Press Brake Foot Pedal Work?
Foot pedals for press brake safety do not always act as the sole activation lever. They are sometimes an extra step that must be initiated to prevent accidental engagement of the machine. They greatly reduce the risk of accidents this way, but may also be used as the sole means of activation. If the foot pedal is all that is needed for operation, this can leave the press brake operator’s hands free before, during, and immediately after the stroke. The pedal must be pushed down in order for the machine to operate in either case, sole operation or in combination with another lever.
Automatic Stroke Stop Device
There are some foot pedals that use a method of two-press operation. The first press lowers the die to a distant of 6 mm from contact; a second press initiates contact. This gives the operator another chance to make sure that their hands and objects that don’t belong are not at the point of contact before the stroke takes place. This method also allows the operator to step off of the pedal completely and adjust the piece without having to make contact with the foot pedal before initiating the stroke.
Is a Press Brake Foot Pedal Required by OSHA for All Press Brakes?
A press brake foot pedal is not listed by OSHA as a general requirement for all machines. Although they may or may not necessarily be required for your press brake, a press brake foot pedal helps to protect workers and can leave the operator’s hands free, which can dramatically speed up productivity.