OSHA Safety Manuals | Baling and Compacting Work
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baling compacting

Baling and Compacting Work

Baling and Compacting Work

Compactors and balers are used in industries such as wholesalers, retailers, manufacturing, garbage and recycling facilities, and other public entities to compress waste materials into smaller, more manageable loads. Using powered rams, waste materials such as garbage, paper, cardboard, cotton, metals, and plastic can be compressed and packed into containers or baled for transport. Workers can get seriously injured or killed if they reach inside or fall into a compactor or baler.

Get training on the use of the compactor or baler in your work area. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations on the maintenance, inspection, and use of the machine. Never overload the machine beyond the recommended capacity. Do not allow workers younger that 18 to operate a compactor or baler.

Know how the machine at your jobsite works; does it operate manually or on semiautomatic or automatic cycles? Does the machine have capacity sensors and when are they activated? With manual devices, the operator controls the ram; semiautomatic devices turn on and cycle only after a worker hits the switch; while automatic devices trigger the compression ram based on a capacity sensor. Know and use these features because they tell you when and how the machine will activate so you can avoid the powered ram.

Be familiar with and use all of the safety devices on compactors and balers. Guards, conveyors, remote chutes, control switches, and safety interlocks for doors and ports are designed to keep you out of the compression chamber and harm’s way. Do not try to bypass safety features in order to perform maintenance, clear a jam, or ease the loading process. Use access ladders and platforms, or walk around moving conveyers. Use safe access points and consider fall protection if you are working over gravity-fed chutes or chambers. Watch out for the baling materials because they are under pressure and can snap if they are overloaded.

Follow the safe work practices designed for your machine and job tasks. Always clear the area and account for all workers before you activate a compactor or baler. NEVER reach into or enter a baler or compactor unless it has been de-energized. ALWAYS use lockout/tagout procedures before you perform maintenance, inspections, or clear jams. Jams are a frequent occurrence in baling and compacting operations, so design your lockout/tagout procedures to be efficient and effective by marking the power points and wiring the machinery together to reduce the number of lockouts needed.

Don’t let a compactor or baler put the squeeze on your safety.