Metal cutting guillotines
Did you know? The most common metal guillotine injuries are crushed or amputated fingers. Most of these accidents are not caused by the blade of the guillotine, but by the clamps that hold the sheet of metal being cut. Other injuries are from fingers jamming under the sheet of metal being cut, and strain injuries while handling large and awkward sheets of metal.
By law, guillotines must be guarded, operators must be trained and safe work procedures must be developed to prevent injuries.
Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2020, all persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) have a primary duty of care to ensure the health and safety of their workers while they are at work. This duty means the PCBU must eliminate risks to health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable, and if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate risks to health and safety, they must minimise those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.
The following topics can be used as a guide for toolbox meetings to identify workplace hazards and to reduce the risks of metal guillotines.
Are the metal cutting guillotines in your workplace adequately guarded? See the Code of practice - Managing risks of plant in the workplace for general and practical guidance.
Are the guards rigid, of adequate strength, and securely attached so they cannot be removed from the guillotine without tools?
Are all openings and clearances in and around the guard designed to prevent fingertips reaching the holding clamps or blade?
Is the back of the guillotine guarded to prevent another person reaching the blade from the rear?
Are other dangerous moving parts, such as the flywheel, gears or shafts, also guarded?
- Regulation 208 of Work Health and Safety (General) Regulation 2022 applies if guarding is used as a control measure in relation to Metal cutting guillotines at workplace.The person with management or control of the plant must ensure that (R.208.2) —
(a) if access to the area of the plant requiring guarding is not necessary during operation, maintenance or cleaning of the plant, the guarding is a permanently fixed physical barrier; or
(b) if access to the area of the plant requiring guarding is necessary during operation, maintenance or cleaning of the plant, the guarding is an interlocked physical barrier that allows access to the area being guarded at times when that area does not present a risk and prevents access to that area at any other time; or
(c) if it is not reasonably practicable to use guarding referred to in paragraph (a) or (b), the guarding used is a physical barrier that can only be altered or removed by the use of tools; or
(d) if it is not reasonably practicable to use guarding referred to in paragraph (a), (b) or (c), the guarding includes a presence-sensing safeguarding system that eliminates any risk arising from the area of the plant requiring guarding while a person or any part of a person is in the area being guarded
- The person with management or control of the plant must ensure that the guarding (r.208.3)—
(a) is of solid construction and securely mounted so as to resist impact or shock; and
(b) makes bypassing or disabling of the guarding, whether deliberately or by accident, as difficult as is reasonably practicable; and
(c) does not create a risk in itself; and (d) is properly maintained
- If the plant to be guarded contains moving parts that may break or cause workpieces to be ejected from the plant, the person with management or control of the plant must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the guarding will control any risk from those broken or ejected parts and workpieces.(R.208.4)
- Despite anything to the contrary in R.208, the person with management or control of the plant must ensure(R.208.5) —
(a) that the guarding is of a kind that can be removed to allow maintenance and cleaning of the plant at any time that the plant is not in normal operation; and
(b) if guarding is removed, that, so far as is reasonably practicable, the plant cannot be restarted unless the guarding is replaced.
Regulation 208 of Work Health and Safety (General) Regulation 2022 applies if guarding is used as a control measure in relation to metal cutting guillotines at a workplace. The person with management or control of the plant must:
- Ensure guarding is well constructed and securely mounted to plant to resist impact or shock from operation and
- it is permanently fixed physical barrier or an interlocked physical barrier (if access to the danger area is required during operation, maintenance or cleaning), or
- it is a physical barrier that can only be altered or removed by the use of tools (when it is not reasonably practical to use guarding referred to in 1), or
- it has a presence sensing safeguarding system (when it is not reasonably practical to use guarding referred to above).
- If you need to remove guarding for maintenance and cleaning, you must take steps to ensure (so far as is reasonably practicable) that the plant cannot be restarted until the guarding is replaced.
- If the plant contains moving parts that could break, disintegrate, or be ejected, the guard must effectively (so far as is reasonably practicable) contain the broken or ejected parts.
- Design the machine to make bypassing or disabling the guarding as difficult as reasonably practical
- Ensure any pipe or other part of the plant that is subject to heat or cold is guarded or insulated if there is a risk of injury.
Safe work procedure
Safe work procedures should be developed in consultation with employees and health and safety representatives and reviewed regularly to make sure they remain effective.
It is an unsafe practice for two people to work at a guillotine unless both operators are provided with interlocked actuating devices (usually a foot control). However in some guillotine operations, for example cutting large sheets, two operators may be required to manoeuvre sheets into position before cutting. For such operations safe systems of work, such as safe work procedures should be developed to control any hazards.
Does your workplace have written safe work procedures on or near the guillotine to escribe the safe way of using the guillotine that ensure:
- guards or safety devices are never removed or adjusted, except by an authorised person;
- the machine is always locked out and tagged if a guard or safety device is removed for inspection or maintenance work;
- the correct safety steps are known by all operators for starting and stopping the machine, especially in an emergency
- all safety devices are checked before the machine is operated?
Other safety requirements
Is the guillotine in your workplace set up to reduce the risk of injury, with the following safety essentials provided?
Trapping space may be lighted and the position of lighting should be in such a way to avoid direct glare or unwanted reflections in shiny surface. It should be reasonably practicable to comply with AS/NZS 1680.1:2006 Interior and workplace lighting, Part 1: General principles and recommendations
- emergency stop control must be within easy reach of the operator;
- shrouded foot pedal designed to minimise the risk of unintended operation;
- power indicator that gives visible evidence that the power is switched on;
- offcuts should slide down a skid plate onto a trolley so that operators don't need to reach in behind the blade; and
- design of the machine should minimise awkward postures, so the operator's worktable and the machine bed are about waist high, and the controls are within easy reach.
Is there anything about the type of work you do that may cause injury?
Work materials should be laid out to minimise twisting, bending, stretching, reaching or carrying when handling sheets of metal - a fork lift or pallet lifter should be used to position sheets of metal at waist height next to the guillotine?
Caution should be exercised to ensure guillotines are not used for cutting objects too small to be handled safely - a prominent notice warning against this should be fixed to the machine and clear instructions provided.
Gloves should be provided and worn for jobs that involve handling metal with sharp edges.
Emergency stop controls, in accordance with regulation 211, must be prominent, clearly marked, accessible and coloured red. If there are multiple emergency stop controls and more than one person is required to operate the plant, the controls must be the ‘stop and lock-off’ type, so the plant can’t be restarted until the emergency stop control is reset. The stop control must be operable in the event of electrical malfunctions.
Instruction and training
Have all guillotine operators in your workplace been given appropriate instruction and training that includes:
- the purpose of guarding and safety devices, and how to check they are working correctly;
- hazards that occur during normal use of a guillotine, such as fingers getting crushed under sheet metal being fed into a guillotine;
- hazardous practices, such as riding the foot pedal;
- faults that may develop in a guillotine (eg. faults in the clutch, brake and guard mechanisms may show symptoms that the operator needs to understand);
- the importance of immediately telling the person in charge when any fault or operating problem arises; and
- never attempting to personally correct any fault in the function of a guillotine?
- The PCBU must ensure that information, training and instruction provided to a worker is suitable and adequate having regard to —
(a) the nature of the work carried out by the worker; and
(b) the nature of the risks associated with the work at the time the information, training or instruction is provided; and
(c) the control measures implemented (r. 39).
The person must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the information, training and instruction provided under this regulation is provided in a way that is readily understandable by any person to whom it is provided (R.39.3).
Are all trainee guillotine operators closely supervised by someone with a thorough knowledge of the mechanics and safety of the machine until they are fully trained in its use?
Is on-going supervision provided, to ensure safe work practices are being followed and the machines are working safely and efficiently?
Does supervision include:
- regular checks of the guillotine operator's knowledge and understanding of the mechanics and safe work procedures;
- regular checks to ensure all guillotines are mechanically sound and safe, and that safe procedures are being followed; and
- talking to employees about the safety of their work and the machines they operate?
Is the guillotine in your workplace adequately maintained? Is there:
- an inspection and maintenance program aimed at keeping the guillotine and guards in a safe condition;
- a trained maintenance person, thoroughly familiar with the recommendations of the guillotine manufacturer, particularly those applying to guards, clutch and brake adjustment;
- a procedure to replace worn parts before they fail or cause an accident; and
- a program of regular inspections, where details of inspections and maintenance are recorded for future reference?
- The person with management or control of plant at a workplace must ensure that the maintenance, inspection and, if necessary, testing of the plant is carried out by a competent person (r. 213). The maintenance, inspection and testing must be carried out:
(a) in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, if any; or
(b) if there are no manufacturer’s recommendations, in accordance with the recommendations of a competent person; or
(c) in relation to inspection, if it is not reasonably practicable to comply with paragraph (a) or (b), annually.
Lock out and tagging
Are isolating switches provided, and are lock-out and tagging procedures used during maintenance work on machinery such that:
- isolation switches are switched off;
- switches are locked out and tagged to inform others that maintenance work is being done; and
- the only key to the lock is in the possession of the person carrying out the maintenance?
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