Optimizing Paver Plant Safety

Pursuant to a series of incidents in North America, safety authorities recently have conducted multiple on-site accident investigations at paver producing

Jeff Ashcroft

Pursuant to a series of incidents in North America, safety authorities recently have conducted multiple on-site accident investigations at paver producing facilities. Accordingly, the challenge of block machinery and related paver-production equipment meeting current safety standards in either the U.S. or Canada has become evident.

Specifically, deficiencies have been identified with respect to guarding for automated doors and access points to the block machine [mandated by B11.1 & 2/CSA 432-04 standards], as well as safety interlocks. Most importantly, the equipment control system did not meet the standards’ requirement for dual-channel, control-reliable operation as stated in B11.1 and CSA Z142-02.

Though most paver producers may be unacquainted with B11.1 & 2/CSA Z142-02 safety standards, all are well advised to learn about them and maintain compliance. Developed initially for the metal stamping industry, the standards are applicable to any operation, such as block production, using machines that form, shear or blank material.

In particular, press production equipment requires press control reliability and redundancy, new training requirements, and press-type specific training. Also mandated are operator competency verification and records of operator training. Additional specific management responsibilities are detailed: Employer shall ensure that 1) power presses incorporate a total system of protection designed to ensure the safety of all people working within the press environment; 2) any press modifications conform to standard; and, 3) modifiers provide instructions and operating guideline changes.

Such regulations are relevant to paver producers, because a company is subject to significant fines in the event of an accident with its equipment, if an investigation reveals any safety deficiencies based on the standards. Among the handful of major block machine manufacturers in today’s marketplace, none currently meet B11.1 & 2/Z142-02 for standard models. Thus, without specific remedial modifications and the addition of reliable and redundant safety controls to equipment, a block and/or paver operation almost certainly is noncompliant.

Remedying safety deficiencies involves, first, inquiring directly of the professional engineer who provides expertise and guidance for company operations whether the production equipment has been verified as compliant with Z142-02 safety requirements. Second, a consulting company skilled in safety modifications must be enlisted to inspect the equipment in order to assess the status of safety guarding and controls in view of the engineer’s recommendation for compliance with B11.1 & 2/CSA Z142-02. Third, if an operator training, verification and record-keeping program is not yet in place, developing and implementing such a regimen as soon as possible is essential to ensure compliance: these records will be requested by safety officials should an accident occur. In sum, protection of the operation, as well as management, ultimately the business itself, and most importantly, the safety of employees depends on keeping up with changes in safety codes and regulations that are applicable to the facility’s production equipment.

A frequent commentator on safety issues in power press operations, Jeff Ashcroft is affiliated with Reflex Integration, a supplier of power press safety upgrades and the manufacturer of Command Stamp, a B11.1 / Z142-02-compliant press control. He can be reached at 905/836-8103; by e-mail: [email protected]; or, via web site: www.reflexintegration.com.