Health & Safety Issues in Packaging Areas - the picture that's seldom shown...
Increasing numbers of Health and Safety Depts are becoming newly aware of long existing risk situations in their packing and despatch operations that arise from the manual application of packaging materials. Two materials in particular are the focus of interest - for different reasons - namely stretch film and plastic strapping. With regard to the former it has long been accepted that it is virtually impossible to comply with risk assessment requirements and write acceptable operating instructions for an operation requiring a person to walk in a crouched position, backwards in spirals around a pallet six or eight times, all the time exerting enough pressure to stretch the film to enable it hold product securely onto a pallet. The risk of musculoskeletal injury is very evident – the human form is not best designed for such repetitive movements - and risk is further increased by possible light headedness on completion of the operation, particularly where mechanical equipment also operates in the same area. These effects are universally recognised so it is surprising that to date so few Companies have taken steps to address the issue.
Strapping materials do not involve the same extreme combination of movements or effort, generally being limited to stooping to thread strapping through and under pallet voids, although this can be largely avoided with the use of simple equipment known as Strap Pokas, mobile pallet strapping machines that simultaneously thread two straps over the pallet and through the pallet voids in approx. six seconds. Unless the particular benefits of stretch film are required, i.e. mainly product protection against contaminants, increasing numbers of Companies are reverting to the use of plastic strapping, reducing both risk, effort and cost in the process. A range of low cost mobile pallet strapping machines can be seen at www.pscl.co.uk or indeed a video showing how two straps can be placed around a pallet in just six seconds illustrating there are safety, cost and speed benefits from changing packaging materials. The link is Pallet Strapping Made Easy!
Contact The Plastic Strapping Company Ltd for further advice and information.