Guarding (a machine feature which shields or covers hazardous areas of a machine to prevent contact with body parts) is very important to YPS. We are the leading supplier of shrink wrapping equipment to the U.K. and have a diverse product range consisting of manual to fully automatic machines, each with their own safety considerations. We have seen significant improvements in guarding the last decade, brought about through pressure from two angles; legislation and better machine design. CE marking, for example, used to be the accepted standard, but has slipped to being only the bare minimum standard. For this reason, all of our equipment is guarded well over and above CE marking regulations.
However guarding can still be a subjective and sometimes emotive issue and therefore, in line with our customer-centric vision, we adopt a very straightforward policy. We agree that following any risk assessment made by our customers, YPS will provide additional guarding if required, completely free of charge. This is typically only required in around 5% of installations, but we understand that all businesses have their own health and safety policies which must be adhered to, even though our equipment will always exceed the required standards anyway.
Glyn Johnson, YPS Managing Director, has found in his experience, that safeguarding can increase the complexity of machinery and its installation. Preventative safety features can make the operation of the machinery harder for handlers or even make the running speeds of the equipment slower. ‘It’s about striking the right balance between a user-friendly experience and assured safety’ he states.
Improvements in machine manufacture have come with the advancements of technology. Physical guards on YPS shrink wrappers have been replaced by or supplemented with light curtains which have improved the design and effectiveness greatly. Even if physical guards are deliberately bypassed, operator safety is now guaranteed by these light curtains which immediately halt the equipment if any safety breaches are detected.
We have also seen the important safety issue of manual lifting affect machinery design and our customer’s requirements. Our machinery has been redesigned to keep in mind the strain on the operator when consumables including shrink film are loaded. For example, our low level film holder negates the need to lift heavy rolls of film overhead, this is especially important for our wide inline machines for wrapping large items. Safety features which used to be optional and cost the customer extra are increasingly becoming part of the standard machinery specification.