Fatal accident involving a film bag applicator

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Fatal accident involving a film bag applicator

Category : Allgemein

The employee entered the danger area of the palletizing system and suffered a fatal injury of his head due to being hit by the film bag applicator. The drives were not stopped when the employee entered the area. It is assumed that he then unintendedly interrupted a functional light barrier, thus initiating a machine movement. The film bag applicator pulls a film over bagged goods stacked on a pallet. This machine, together with other machines, is enclosed by a protective fence. Access to the machine is provided by an interlocked guard gate. Inlet and outlet are safeguarded by safety light barriers.

From time to time it is necessary to enter the danger area of the facility, e.g. in order to provide new film material.

Accident cause

The safety light barriers at machine inlet and outlet were defeated. This was the reason why the employee was able to enter the facility without the drives being stopped. The light barriers had been shifted so far upwards that it was easy to gain access below the undermost light barrier. This manipulative modification of the light barrier position was the reason why none of the machines were stopped when a person entered the facility; this became the employee´s undoing.

Assumed reason for defeating the protective equipment …

Pneumatic clamping grippers hold the film gathered by the film applicator and pull it from above over the bags. When a person enters the facility through the interlocked guard gate intended for this purpose or when the safety light barriers at the inlet and outlet are interrupted, all drives are stopped and the pneumatic system is discharged. This also causes the pneumatic clamping grippers to open. However, this renders an extensive fault clearance necessary, with the gathered film having to be cut off by hand and inserted by new. Presumably, the employees working on this facility wanted to save themselves this extensive fault clearance required after safety light barrier interruption. Shifting the light barriers upwards allowed access to the danger area without discharging the pneumatic system.

… is easy to eliminate

This act of defeat could have been avoided: from the safety point of view, it is no problem at all to keep the clamping grippers holding the gathered film in closed position when the safety light barriers are interrupted. Unfortunately, the machine was not modified accordingly until the accident had occurred.