Any company producing a large amount of cardboard waste will be looking to remove it as efficiently as possible. For many, the solution is a cardboard baler. The business benefits of a cardboard baler are considerable. Balers take up less space, which results in less frequent waste collections and therefore less money spent, they’re also good for the environment and your budget.

But as with any large, complex machinery, safety is the primary concern. To ensure the safety of your operators, take note of these crucial safety tips for operating your cardboard baler.

Risk Assessment

When discussing the safety of any site or equipment, it’s always worth performing a risk assessment. Even the same model of baler can have different risk complications when factoring in location, environmental hazards and how old the machine is. Knowing the potential risk factors will make it all the easier to remove or mitigate them.

Training

Clear and exhaustive training is a simple necessity before operating any baler. This training should, of course, be done by qualified personnel. Some of the key areas to focus on during training are:

  • Inspecting the baler to ensure no obvious defects, or loose tags, before use.
  • Keeping all liquids away from the machine at all times. This is especially important near the controls.
  • Only loading authorized materials, and absolutely no heavy materials such as glass or metals.
  • Standing back from the front of the machine when the baler is compacting.
  • Taking care when unloading bales, utilizing assistance or pallets if necessary; the bales can be very heavy.
  • Specific instructions on how to safely remove a jam, including powering down the baler before any attempt.
  • Expanding on the above, never insert a limb or try to enter the machine while it is active.
  • Turning the machine off when not in use and removing the key.
  • After operating the baler, always clean and inspect the machine and the floor area.

At the most basic level, encourage all operators to study the operating manual in as much depth as possible.

Signs and displays

At all times, your baler should have clearly visible warning labels. Ensuring these are well-maintained and kept in clear view can prevent a lot of accidents. Though most balers will come with warning labels on the equipment, older models may not have them. If so, you will have to create your own.

When designing the displays, use consistent colours and symbols, especially if you have multiple balers or machines in the site. It’s worth noting that these signs should be made as much for guests or customers as employees. Additionally, anyone under 18 legally cannot operate a baler, and there should be signs warning this.

Including auxiliary information, such as maximum loads, operator age requirements and pinch-points, can also be helpful.

Often overlooked but just as important are signs denoting if the machine is currently on. Even though the baler should be in its “off” position when not in use, a sign can be the extra precaution that prevents an injury.

Appropriate PPE

All operators should always wear the necessary protective gear. This includes at minimum: glasses, goggles, gloves, ear plugs, hard hats and steel-toed shoes. This applies to any employees working near the baler as well.

Hydraulics

As most balers use hydraulic cylinders, addressing any oil leaks, spills or contaminates as soon as possible is crucial. Should any contaminates be picked up during routine inspections of the oil, filtering it can go a long way. Failing that however, it will need to be changed completely. Contaminated oils will have a lower viscosity, and can fail to properly lubricate the machine, so keep on top of it. Another important area to check are the hoses. Regularly check for any abrasions, tearing or wear. Age and heat are major causes for hoses breaking down, which can result in a baler breakdown too. Similarly, the baler’s wiring and conduits should be inspected before use, and repaired immediately if there are any signs of damage.

Make safety the priority

Ultimately, the way to use a baler is to exercise good common sense. If something seems off, even if it’s just a gut feeling, suspend operation and give it a thorough check up. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Any structural issues should be cause for an immediate repair. This could include cracks in the frames or any signs of stress in the machine. The worst thing you can do is assume the problem will go away on its own. Always act when necessary.