How automated waste systems help to keep operators safe

We can all agree; safety is paramount. If you can minimize risks to your employees’ health and wellbeing, you not only benefit from a happier and more productive workforce, but you also protect your business from safety-related costs.

In the printing and converting industry, waste handling is one area where safety can be at risk. If this is still being done by hand, it requires a lot of heavy lifting. And, as we all know, heavy lifting inevitably leads to problems.

It’s worth noting that the American National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health states that 23kg is the maximum weight that may be lifted manually if health risks are to be avoided. Often, production waste bins and rolls will exceed this figure. Even if they don’t, constantly lifting and moving waste of any weight will eventually take its toll.

Waste grows with you

Waste handling often gets overlooked from a safety perspective. Factories will go to great lengths in other areas, for example to ensure fire safety procedures are met or correct clothing is worn. When it comes to waste, often a business will have started small and got used to a manual process.

As operations grow in size and output, the process simply remains the same, even though the safety risks may also increase as a result.

Many businesses, however, will recognise that manually handling waste is a risk. And no risks are worth taking if you want to run an efficient, productive, and profitable operation. Fortunately, automating the process provides a solution that is easily achievable.

Be lean – be safe

Before we go further, it’s worth touching upon the concept of a lean organization. Every business we work with wants to improve process optimization. Yet so often they find that manually handling waste creates clutter, which quite literally gets in the way of achieving their broader goals.

You may have heard of the 5S system. This is a lean organization method that uses a list of five Japanese words to guide its practice and principles, which translate as ‘sort’, ‘set in order’, ‘shine’, ‘standardize’, and ‘sustain’. These describes how to organize a workspace for efficiency and effectiveness.

In some sectors, 5S has become 6S, the sixth element being safety. This highlights the importance of safety as a key part of any organisation’s strategy to optimize operations to save resources, minimize waste, and avoid productivity losses from injuries and occupational health hazards.

Why manually handling waste is a risk

This brings us neatly back to the possible risks of manually handling waste, and the rewards of implementing an automated system.

The converting, finishing, and packaging process will create waste and waste rolls that must be removed for disposal. These can be bulky and heavy; in fact, we’ve known customers that had to allocate two people to the job, due to local requirements. This not only shows how heavy these rolls can be, but also illustrates how things can start to add up financially with two workers dedicated to the task.

Constantly lifting these rolls, all day every day, is an accident waiting to happen. It could be something relatively minor, such as trapped finger or a squashed toe, but it could just as likely be a more substantial back or shoulder injury. Even something small can put a worker out of action for a few weeks (not good if he’s a skilled operator) – let alone something more serious – which can have serious repercussions for your productivity.

A manual process also has hazards that are not quite as evident. For example, many factories use a Venturi system to blow the trim to one side. These can be noisy and create a mess. It’s difficult to measure the impact of these on workers’ health, but daily exposure may have an impact over the long term.

Automation makes it safe

The good news is, by automating the waste handling process you can reduce waste-related risks to a minimum.

It’s not hard to see the immediate benefits. There is less noise and no dust, so that’s one problem taken care of. No one has to handle heavy rolls or bins as the waste trim and matrix are whisked away by itself, chopped up, and deposited in the correct container without any human involvement whatsoever. So that solves that one too.

Automating waste handling also keeps your factory clean and free from clutter. Another significant advantage to this is the impression of order and professionalism it gives to potential customers who visit your premises. If it were you, which would you be more comfortable in placing your business with – a disordered factory with waste bins cluttering the floor, or one that was gleaming with cleanliness, tidiness, and efficiency?

Protect your people and your business

Worker safety is sometimes hard to quantify, but the potential risks are too great to ignore. Especially when it comes to manually handling waste, the process is beset with risk that can lead to injuries of all shapes and sizes. By far the best solution is simply to take people out of the process.

An automated waste handling system safeguards your employees and your business, while delivering significant productivity and efficiency benefits. As a result, the potential return far outweighs the initial investment – it just makes undeniably good business sense.

To explore options for automated waste handling systems that would be best for your setup, give us a call. Our friendly experts are standing by to help. Stay safe!

Read a testimonial from a happy customer, who has bought a Lundberg Tech waste handling solution.

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