Updated for 2019.
Here at Kempner, we have the UK’s largest and most comprehensive range of shrink wrapping machinery and materials, and as such, take health and safety as a paramount consideration in the workplace.
We have taken the time to compile a comprehensive risk assessment for an operator of shrink wrapping machinery to read through before starting to work with the machine and to adhere to it at all times. It is important that operators are provided with enough knowledge on the equipment they are operating, from the location of each control to their exact function.
This guide does not cover the use of heat guns. For a shrink wrap heat gun risk assessment, read our recently published guide.
Risks During Routine Maintenance
If you are carrying out maintenance on machinery, there are certain things you should be sure to keep in mind prior to beginning your process. Unless otherwise instructed, you should cover off the following elements from your checklist:
- Switch the machine off.
- Switch the voltage off.
- Pull out the power supply cable from the mains.
- Move any loads away from the vicinity of the shrink wrapping machine unless absolutely necessary.
- Remove any debris or build-up away from the shrink wrapping machine.
- Confirm that you are using only the type of fuel specified by the manufacturer of the equipment.
Risk Assessment Before Shrink Wrapping
Goods that are being prepared to be shrink-wrapped into a single unit should be stacked carefully on pallets. There should not be any protrusions, damaged or leaking containers or bags, no loose ends to each product, and the loud on a pallet should be stable.
Before beginning the shrink wrapping process, the area around the shrink wrapping machine should be tidy to prevent any mishaps. The floor should be kept clear of all loose packaging material and especially any combustible waste. The shrink wrapper should be checked and cleared of debris. Any accumulation of plastic debris should also be removed in the machine.
Risk Assessment During Shrink Wrapping Process
If you are the owner of the business, it is essential that your machinists have read in detail the manual of any machine they are to use and understand all elements. If you are the operator of the machinery, you should be aware that you need to rigorously and entirely observe safety regulations at all times. All personnel operating shrink wrapping machinery ought to have undergone appropriate training before using such equipment.
Here we have outlined some examples of things to avoid which will ensure risk assessments are covered in full:
General Risks Due to Improper Use:
As a general principle, avoid shrink wrapping things that are overly sensitive or dangerous to heat, or are too big or small to be shrink-wrapped safely. In these cases, a detailed risk assessment and evaluation is needed to decide what is appropriate. Some more specific principles include the following:
- Do not wrap products of less than 50 grams.
- Do not wrap aerosol products.
- Do not wrap volatile products.
- Do not wrap powders in fragile containers.
- Do not wrap products of more than 15kg.
- Do not wrap products of more than 150mm in height.
- Do not wrap products smaller than the tunnel roller gaps.
- Do not wrap liquids in fragile containers.
- Do not wrap wet products.
- Do not wrap flammable products.
- Do not wrap explosive products.
Preventing Physical Contact Injuries
To avoid electric shock and burns to the skin, do not touch the sealing blade of any shrink wrapping machinery unless it has been switched off for more than an hour. Do not remove any panels from the machine at any time either without a professional’s guidance. If there is any visible damage to the plug or cable, make sure to switch the machine off at the wall.
To avoid physical contact injuries, do not touch the moving conveyors. Do not use the machine without the guards in place, nor reach inside the guards while the device is in operation or turned on. Do not reach inside the tunnel, and do not place your hands inside the shrink tunnel.
Fire Risk Assessment
Either a hose reel or at least two portable extinguishers, both of which having a minimum fire safety rating of 13A, should be readily available and near the shrink wrapping machine. The extinguishers should also have been approved and certified by a third-party body and installed in accordance with proper regulation.
Ideally, as shrink wrapping machines are electrical equipment, carbon dioxide extinguishers are in place. If oil-burning equipment is involved, however, dry powder extinguishers should be available instead. Keep in mind that if a fire involves gas, then the flame should only be controlled and not extinguished until someone can turn the gas supply off.
Should flame-producing shrink-wrapping processes be necessary, make sure a designated area is kept clear around the machine, at least four metres across, and surrounded in non-combustible screens. Profiled steel sheeting is suitable for this purpose. Shrink wrapping should not take place anywhere where flammable gases, vapours or mists are present. If equipment that requires large quantities of air for combustion to be used are nearby, the shrink wrapping equipment should only be placed in areas that are draught-free and well ventilated.
Fore more information about improving shrink wrap machinery fire safety, read our article on managing fire risk here.
Risk Assessment After Shrink Wrapping Process
Once you have finished using the shrink wrapping machine, turn off the equipment by the mains and allow it to cool. Give the machine a suitable amount of time to cool, then, if the machine is portable or mobile, store it in a safe place under lock and key.
After a product has been shrink-wrapped, it should be given a cooling-off period of 20 minutes before being moved into storage. A close inspection should be made at the end of each shift and each working day for smouldering material or other signs of danger.
Risk Assessments and General Cleaning
While this may seem straightforward, it is essential to have clear guidelines of which all staff are aware. Maintaining a clean work environment and shrink wrap machine is vital to its smooth operation. This involves cleaning each part of a shrink wrap machine at the end of each working day.
The rollers should be warm when carrying out the cleaning. Take a warm, dry cloth and carefully relieve the rollers of any film residue that may remain. You should not attempt to use sharp or abrasive items for this task as it can damage the machinery, as well as presenting a hazard to the operative.
First, you must heat the blade. Once the blade has been heated, carry out three sealing operations without the use of any film, doing so in quick succession.
Following the third and final sealing, quickly go ahead and clean the blade with a dry cloth. Be mindful not to touch any hot parts with your hands and don’t clean the edge with any metal objects as this could affect the quality of the blade.
When cleaning any Perspex on the machine, make sure only to use a damp cloth. Lightly blot the surface and avoid applying too much pressure as you wipe. Don’t use detergents or solvents when cleaning – they are likely to affect the transparency of the Perspex and worsen your shrink wrapping machine.
Teflon tape and rubber
The first step here is to remove the used Teflon tape regularly to ensure the quality of the finish. Next, you should apply the new adhesive Teflon strips, using a linear and flat technique. Make sure that edges marry and match when applicable. In terms of the rubber bases, these are long-lasting, but when the time comes to replace, the method will be apparent. Be tremendously careful that you do not touch or make dirty the adhesive side of the Teflon strips during application.
We hope this risk assessment guide has been useful to you. Of course, your business risk assessment will be unique to you, so make sure to consider additional risks to these when evaluating how to install and use a machine best. And if you want any help selecting the best shrink wrapping machinery for your business, get in touch, and we will be more than happy to provide our expertise.