The Paper and Board Industry Advisory Committee (PABIAC) was formed in 1979. Its function is committed to helping industries experience a safer paper industry environment which includes a health and safety charter. In conjunction with the HSE, the objectives contained within the PABIAC’s strategy focus on occupational health management, slips and trips prevention and machinery safety. The papermaking and paper recycling industries have traditionally suffered from high accident rates due to occupational health (for example, dust generated in the workplace), trips and slips, work at height, noise, manual handling, falls from heights and work involving machinery. Paper mills and the machinery they use are covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) and Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER).
All papermaking machinery should comply with the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 and the relevant British standards. Machinery should be safe guarded according to PUWER regulations. A risk assessment should be done when applying safe guarding measures for paper working machines. However, the safety measures should not be difficult to use or slow down production, beyond what is reasonably practical. Guards prevent people from accessing danger zones of machinery. They should be high enough so people cannot climb over them and be close to the ground so they cannot be crawled under. Guards can be fixed or movable. Guards have limited access but can have openings for paper feeding, cleaning and operating switches on machinery. An ‘interlocking guard’ is one which prevents the hazardous machine starting up if the guard is not in place. Guard locking ensures that the guard cannot be opened until the machine have finished operating; this prevents any residual motion causing a hazard.
There are some jobs such as removing broke, felt straightening and other maintenance work that can only be done when the machine is operating at crawl speed. These tasks must be combined with a safe system of work. ‘Broke’ is waste paper that is gathered up and recycled back into the process. Some machines have two switches which requires both to be pressed in order for the machine to operate. This is a safety measure. Rotating shafts and transmission machinery pose entanglement, crushing, shearing and impact hazards. The right type of equipment should be selected for the task. If the equipment is modified in any way, for example, adapted to perform new tasks, the risk assessment should be re-done.
However, the use of guards and control measures are only as effective as the training given to the operators. In these work situations there must be heavy protocol processes in place by which employees must strictly adhere to, so that the guards are most efficiently used and provide maximum protection.