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Compacting and Baling Equipment

Compacting and baling equipment --

Compacting and baling equipment reduces large amounts of solid waste to smaller, more manageable units by means of powered rams. In general, compactors compress refuse into containers for transport. Baling equipment is designed to compress material (e.g., cardboard boxes) and produce a bale (bound or unbound) that is handled as a unit. A wide range of hazards exist simply due to the size, configuration, and operation of compactors and balers. Some machines allow direct access to the compression chamber, while others have a hopper or chute through which material feeds into the machine. Machines may operate in a manual, semiautomatic, or automatic mode. The rams may move vertically or horizontally.

Hazard --

Workers can be crushed by the ram motion if guarding is missing or bypassed, or if lockout procedures are not followed during maintenance activities. Older compacting equipment may not have appropriate interlock guarding or may not have enough guarding to enclose the chamber or point-of[1]operation area completely. Severe injury and death can also occur during service or maintenance tasks on or inside an energized or jammed machine if the machine cycles automatically, or if the machine is activated by another worker who is unaware that someone is inside the chamber. Furthermore, because ram motion ceases during a jam, workers may not recognize that the machine remains energized and that the ram could activate unexpectedly. Similarly, if conveyors are used to feed material into a compactor or baler, workers may mistakenly believe that shutting down the conveyor also prevents the compactor or baler from operating. In addition to the hazardous-energy potential, working inside these machines may also present confined-space hazards such as hazardous atmospheres and engulfment.

Solution --

Access covers and point-of-operation guarding must be interlocked in such a manner that the compactor cannot be operated if the guard or loading door is removed or opened. Most compactors and balers today prevent workers from reaching into the point of operation by configuration, cycling controls, and interlock guarding that interrupt or reverse the ram’s motion if the compression chamber doors are opened. However, older equipment may not have these features and it would be wise to consult with the manufacturer for possible retrofits or upgrades. Whenever unjamming, adjusting, cleaning, repairing, or performing other maintenance tasks, the machine must be isolated from all its energy sources and “locked out.” If conveyors are used, they should be interconnected so that a single, lockable device can de-energize and isolate the power to both machines.

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