Between 35,000 and 62,000 injuries each year involve a forklift, with several of these cases affecting bystanders and pedestrians. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that more than 70% of these incidents were preventable.
Each year we recognize National Forklift Safety Day on the second Tuesday of June — this year, the event falls on June 13. Originally started as an initiative by the Industrial Truck Association, National Forklift Safety Day highlights the importance of operator training and pedestrian awareness to keep those who manufacture, operate, and work around forklifts safe.
As a global leader in the field of bulk material handling and processing equipment – where operators commonly utilize forklift equipment to move bulk bags – Spiroflow understands the importance of keeping operators safe on the job. One way the industry has addressed growing concerns related to operator safety was the introduction of flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs) and bulk bag handling equipment vs. smaller bags traditionally handled manually by an operator. In fact, the use of bulk bags has grown significantly in recent years, in part due to the legislation passed to reduce the strain on workers’ backs and prevent injuries from manual labor.
While these systems overall require less manual operator assistance as opposed to traditional small bag handling and emptying, it’s important to understand that the size of these bags themselves pose a risk. If bulk bags are not filled, stacked, or handled properly, they can cause injury. Still, when integrated into the production process properly, bulk bag equipment handling solutions have been found to be beneficial for improving operator safety for a number of reasons, including:
- Reduction of Manual Labor & Related Injuries: Bulk bag equipment has been found to reduce repetitive lifting injuries and offer a safe way to unload materials without requiring manual interference that could result in an all-too-common cut or puncture-related hand injury.
- Reduction & Containment of Dust: Bulk bag unloading equipment can be designed to minimize dust escaping into the environment and the risk of exposing operators to potentially harmful substances.
- Automatic Transfer of Materials: Bulk bags can often be configured to automatically transfer materials into the production process with minimal operator assistance.
- Built-In Lifts & Hoists: Some bulk bagging equipment like Spiroflow’s T6 Bulk Bag Unloader comes equipped with a built-in lift or hoist, for when a forklift is not available or preferred.
Bulk bag handling equipment must be designed with the operator’s safety and convenience in mind. In order to ensure maximum safety, it’s important to define system requirements to find the best filling and unloading solution. It is also important to consider the number of operators available and what is realistic for an operator to accomplish. Even automated systems will typically require some operator assistance.
Here are some important things to think through when researching the right bulk bag handling equipment to meet your production line’s needs:
- Material properties – Is the material prone to dusting? Is it highly flammable if dusting occurs? Is it dangerous for the operator to inhale the material?
- Flow characteristics – How well will the materials discharge from bags ? Does the bulk bag unloader need a bag tensioning device or other flow aids, like massage paddles or vibrators, to ensure all products are discharged? Proper discharge procedures mitigate risks and enhance overall safety.
- Size and type of bags required – How can we ensure that the right type of bag is being used so no product can escape or issues occur?
- Bag placement & removal – Is there a forklift available or is an integral hoist needed? Will partial bags ever need to be removed from a discharger?
- Headroom or space constraints – Where will this equipment be installed? Are there space constraints that need to be considered?
- Weight or batching requirements – What sizes and weights of bulk bags that will be used? What are the batch and accuracy requirements?
- Dust containment or hygienic requirements – Are materials hazardous or toxic and require dust containment? Are there hygienic requirements that accompany your application (i.e., food processing)?
How Spiroflow Can Help
We understand that each organization’s individual manufacturing needs will differ. Our engineers consider unique material characteristics, bag type and manufacturing processes in designing bulk bag filling and discharging systems that can cover a comprehensive range of applications. Learn more about our line of bulk bag fillers and bulk bag unloaders and discharging stations or contact us today to talk to one of our engineers.