When you are starting a warehouse company or already have one then you should be very focused on safety. It is not only the right thing to do for your workers but it is also the law. There are a lot of rules and guidelines to follow.
One overlooked area is when you have a bulk bag unloader. It doesn’t seem like an operation that is inherently unsafe.
However, there are a lot of concerns that need to be dealt with to ensure that it does stay safe. Bulk bag unloaders & dischargers do have a lot of hidden dangers and it is up to you as a warehouse owner or supervisor to make sure that it is safe to use them.
In this article, we will go over several of the ways to go about keeping things safe.
1. Supporting framework
OSHA is very specific about how the support for a bulk bag should be constructed and how it needs to be able to support the bag. It is extremely important to use the right frame for the size and weight of the bulk bag.
Not only does the bag have to have a support that is designed for the type of bag it is or discharger, but it needs to only be used with that particular one. It is not a good idea to ever try to discharge a bulk bag on a frame that is designed for another type or size of the bag.
There is a serious risk of failure for the support if the bag is too heavy or if it doesn’t fit the discharger properly. If this happens then you put any employees in the vicinity at risk.
For instance, a worker has to stand under the support to be able to cut open the bag. If the support were to fail during this procedure it could result in a fatal accident.
2. Avoid static
The discharging of the contents of the bulk bag is an explosion risk. There is so much dust that comes out of it when there are no precautions used to manage it that any type of spark could cause it to erupt in flames.
This is why it is important to keep any static charges down since this is exactly how an explosion could happen even if there isn’t an open flame in the warehouse. For starters, the supporting structure for the bag unloader should be grounded. This way a charge would pass right through it and not cause a spark.
Make sure to either use Type D bags that diffuse the static charges, or use Type C bags that are grounded and will allow the charge to pass through.
3. Watch for pinch points
There are many pinch points on the support for the bulk bags that can injure a worker who doesn’t see it coming. There should be thorough training for anybody who needs to operate the unloader.
Even then, it should have some easy-to-identify markings so that people know to keep their hands away from those areas.