Why PC Pumps offer automated solution to reduce workplace injuries
3 Jun 2019
The food & drink sector accounts for a high proportion of injuries in the process industry, says SEEPEX’s Lesley Eaton, who makes the case for automation using PC pumps...
Since 1990 the overall injury rate on food and drink (F&D) manufacturing sites has fallen 50%, yet the sector is still responsible for more than a quarter of the 5,000 manufacturing incidents reported to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) each year.
The Sentencing Council’s Definitive Guideline, which came into effect in 2016, calculates penalties based on company turnover rather than profitability. As a result, food companies have been on the receiving end of some of the largest fines.
Here’s how progressive cavity (PC) pumps can automate some of the key processes on food manufacturing sites to de-risk six of the main food factory hazards:
Slips and trips
According to the HSE, slips and trips are responsible for 35% of major injuries in the F&D sector. The vast majority (90%) occur when the floor is wet or contaminated with food. Transferring liquids and pastes manually via buckets or tote bins brings an inherent risk. Pumping instead of physically handling eliminates this, with the added effect of decreasing the numbers on the factory floor.
Slips and trips are responsible for 35% of major injuries in the F&D sector. The vast majority (90%) occur when the floor is wet
While pumps are renowned for their ability to transfer liquids, they are also, thanks to their gentle, low shear handling action able to transfer viscous products or those containing large soft solids as well as liquid.
Conveyors are involved in 30% of all machinery accidents in F&D. PC pumps can transfer not just liquids and semi-solids, but also solid foodstuffs, such as whole chicken breasts, eliminating need for conveyors and reducing risk of operator injury.
Pumps and associated pipework are also much easier to clean and maintain than conveyors and require less exposure to harsh cleaning chemicals.
In the food and drink industry, around 1,700 acute injuries per year are attributed to manual handling. Automating food transfer duties reduces the people doing this work.
And while, traditionally, PC pumps contain heavy components, in the case of SEEPEX’s Smart Conveying Technology, for example, the weight of the stator is reduced by 75%. Instead of a single unit, the pump stator is comprised of two halves, making it much lighter and safer when removing for maintenance.
The second highest cause of fatal F&D accidents is workplace transport. Enclosed piped waste removal systems such as those mentioned above eliminate the need for fork lift trucks entering the food production site.
Corrosive and abrasive materials
Ingredients containing allergic or irritant properties (such as malic acid ) can harm the skin in their concentrated state. Automating the dosing process reduces the risk of exposure.
Cleaning chemicals used to sterilise equipment – such as sodium hypochlorite – can also irritate skin and even cause respiratory problems. The HSE states that cleaning-in-place (CIP) systems are a safer option for the internal disinfection of plant and equipment. Many PC pumps now come with CIP as standard, meeting the exacting requirements of the food industry without compromising employee safety.
One such example is SEEPEX’s latest hygienic PC pump; the first to meet stringent European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG) standards under its new testing regime
Industrial hearing loss is the occupational condition for approximately 75% of all civil, with pneumatic sound and compressed air - averaging 85-95 decibels - the fifth most likely process associated with high noise levels.
Such is the noise impact created by air-operated diaphragm pumps – exacerbated by the fact that they are often left to run continuously – that manufacturers supply them with sound screening. By contrast, PC pumps – which only run when needed – emit considerably fewer decibels. Requiring no sound screening, they pose a lower risk to employees’ hearing.