Machinery Standards for Packaging


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Jeremy Procter, Managing Director of Procter Machine Safety, outlines the standards pertinent to the safety of packaging machinery.

Packaging machines are commonly used in a variety of industries, though they are particularly prevalent in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Because they often run at high speed and often need to be accessed for cleaning or to clear blockages, packaging machines are a significant cause of injuries to workers.

While there are no statistics available relating to packaging machines across all industries, the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) has studied the pattern of injuries relating to packaging machinery in the food and drink industries. From the results of this research, companies operating packaging machinery can see where they need to pay close attention, and machine designers can check whether or not they are designing-out these hazards or providing suitable safeguards.


Standards for Packaging Machinery

Conveyors, which can be considered as the simplest form of automation, are involved in more machinery-related accidents in the food and drink industries than any other class of machinery, according to the HSE. Some 30 percent of machinery-related accidents in these industries involve conveyors, with 90 percent of injuries occurring on flat belt conveyors. Remarkably, 90 percent of conveyor injuries involve well-known hazards including in-running nips, transmission components and trapping points between fixed and moving parts.

Various machine safety standards are available to help ensure the safety of conveyors, such as:

  • BS EN 620:2002 Continuous handling equipment and systems – Safety and EMC requirements for fixed belt conveyors for bulk materials
  • BS 5667-18:1979 Specification for continuous mechanical handling equipment – safety requirements. Conveyors and elevators with chain-elements – examples for guarding of nip point
  • BS 5667-19:1980 Specification for continuous mechanical handling equipment – safety requirements. Belt conveyors – examples for guarding of nip points

Note, however, that although parts 18 and 19 of BS 5667 are still current, they are proposed for withdrawal; part 18 will be superseded by BS EN 618, 619 and 620, and part 19 will be superseded by BS EN 618 and 620.

Thermoform, fill and seal machines are also involved in a significant number of accidents, with around 50 percent of injuries caused by failures in guarding of the forming dies and the cutters separating the continuous packaging into individual packs. The HSE‘s research indicates that the major causative factors are guards being removed or inadequate (36 percent) and guards not being provided or fallen into disuse (19 percent). In addition, unsafe systems of work, especially during maintenance, are cited in 17 percent of accidents involving this type of machinery.

Such hazards are well known, hence a standard has been prepared for this type of machinery:

  • BS EN 415-3:2000 Safety of packaging machines. Form, fill and seal machines

Palletisers and depalletisers also present significant hazards, though the number of accidents relating to these is smaller. Nevertheless, these types of machine have the potential to cause major injuries. According to the HSE, most injuries occur when operators or maintenance personnel enter the machine and become trapped between fixed parts and moving parts, with the risk made greater by the unexpected nature of machine movements. There are also hazards from falling loads, sudden movements of jammed product or pallets that are freed, or movements due to a failure to dump stored energy in pneumatic or hydraulic systems.

In this case, the relevant standard is:

  • BS EN 415-4:1998 Safety of packaging machines. Palletizers and depalletizers

Other types of packaging machinery are less frequently involved in accidents, but they are covered by standards are as follows:

  • BS EN 415-2:2000 Safety of packaging machines. Pre-formed rigid container packaging machines
  • BS EN 415-5:2006 Safety of Packaging Machines. Wrapping machines
  • BS EN 415-6:2006 Safety of Packaging Machines. Pallet wrapping machines
  • BS EN 415-7:2006 Safety of Packaging Machines. Group and secondary packaging machines
  • BS EN 415-8:2008 Safety of Packaging Machines. Strapping machines
  • prEN 415-9 Safety of Packaging Machines. Noise measurement methods (this is currently available in the form of a draft standard for public comment)

In addition, part 1 of BS EN 415 should be used in conjunction with the other parts:

  • BS EN 415-1:2000 Safety of packaging machines. Terminology and classification of packaging machines and associated equipment

The standards highlighted above will certainly be of assistance to users of packaging machinery who are concerned that there may be scope to improve the safety of their machinery, as well as designers working on new machinery who will no doubt find the standards invaluable. But it should be remembered that there are other machinery safety standards that should also be consulted. For example:

  • BS EN ISO 14121-1:2007 Safety of machinery. Risk assessment. Principles
  • BS EN ISO 12100-1:2003 Safety of machinery. Basic concepts, general principles for design. Basic terminology, methodology
  • BS EN ISO 12100-2:2003 Safety of machinery. Basic concepts, general principles for design. Technical principles
  • BS EN ISO 13849-1:2006 Safety of machinery. Safety-related parts of control systems. General principles for design
  • BS EN 62061:2005 Safety of machinery. Functional safety of safety-related electrical, electronic and programmable electronic control systems
  • BS EN 953:1998 Safety of machinery. Guards. General requirements for the design and construction of fixed and movable guards
  • BS EN ISO 13857:2008 Safety of machinery. Safety distances to prevent hazard zones being reached by upper and lower limbs
  • BS EN 60204-1:2006 Safety of machinery. Electrical equipment of machines. General requirements

Other documents that are likely to be helpful include:

  • PD ISO/TR 18569:2004 Safety of machinery. Guidelines for the understanding and use of safety of machinery standards (this is not a standard as such, but it is available from BSI)

and these from the HSE:

  • Food Information Sheet 26 Packaging machinery: Safeguarding thermo-form, fill and seal machines
  • Food Information Sheet 27 Packaging machinery: Safeguarding palletisers and depalletisers
  • Food Information Sheet 28 Packaging machinery: Safeguarding pre-formed rigid container packaging machines

Procter Machine Guarding, which is the UK’s leading supplier of bespoke and modular machine guarding, offers a comprehensive machinery safety service for both existing and new machinery. Depending on the project requirements, Procter can provide risk assessments, PUWER assessments, design services, machine guarding and safety-related control systems – including safety light curtains, pressure-sensitive mats and other safety devices. Utilising these services will help companies to comply with the necessary standards and regulations relating to packaging machinery.

To discuss any requirements for machinery safety services, please email Procter Machine Safety or telephone us.