Safety is the highest priority for AIM Equipment

PUBLISHED: 08 May 18

Located in Knoxville, TN, AIM Equipment supplies and services CNC tubing benders and related equipment
Located in Knoxville, TN, AIM Equipment supplies and services CNC tubing benders and related equipment

The act of forming straight metallic tubing into bent shapes requires huge amounts of force be applied; if any part of a human gets inside the clamping area, the machine will not even slow down. At the end of April a company employee was injured when his hand became caught in the clamps of a tube bender - AIM Equipment was called upon to determine the cause and to put systems in place to prevent any future accidents.

The machine involved had the required safety devices: a properly working safety mat, emergency stops, overtravel switches, and two hand controls. So, what went wrong and how can YOUR company prevent such an accident?

Many contributing factors were at play:

  • The part being run was very short: 20.9 inches – this put the operator well within arms’ reach of the clamping areas.
  • The carriage load position was set too far back for the part: 15 inches. The operator had to stand even closer and put his hands into the clamping area to load a part.
  • A footswitch was being used to start the cycle, freeing the operator's hands.
  • The machine was set so only a single press of the footswitch was required to start the bending cycle.
  • The operator was standing in an area for loading the tube that was not covered by the safety mat.

What could have been done differently?

  • Replace the safety mat with a floor scanner (or two). A floor scanner can provide coverage over a larger area than most safety mats. It can be programmed to cover user defined shapes, such as covering the arc of a bend arm and down the side of a machine, making it much harder to defeat the scanners protective properties.
  • Bolt the footswitch to the floor in a position that prevents the operator from using it while reaching in to the clamping area.
  • Add a switch for short tubes that only operates the collet, generally the only device able to be operated if someone is in the danger zone.
  • Consider safety fencing with interlocked access doors for areas that cannot be adequately covered by safety mats or a floor scanner.
  • Provide operator training and set limits on how the machine can be set up for various parts and tube lengths.

Unfortunately, the operator was injured in the accident and will have some lost time from work.

Jay Robinson, President of AIM Equipment "If you have tubing benders, please take a moment to analyze your safety equipment, and the practices of your operators. It is ultimately the responsibility of the end user to make sure appropriate safety equipment is being used properly and that safe practices are being followed."

AIM Equipment Inc, USA
Tel: + 1 865 498 3508

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Safety is the highest priority for AIM Equipment