Safety designed in

Are the glass processing and window industries are still running too many risks when it comes to safe manual handling?

Figures obtained by Bohle from the Glass and Glazing Federation reveal that if the industry has made progress on safety, it still has significant work to do.

According to the latest findings, while the number of reported accidents showed a 12% drop year-on-year from 2015 to 2016, the percentage of these that involved manual handling injuries increased from 17% to 20%.

“There are clear positives here,” Dave Broxton, managing director of Bohle, said. “Reported accidents are down and that reflects the efforts of the industry to improve its record on safety.

“What is less positive is the jump in manual handling incidents. This is notable because it has coincided with the handling of larger units.

“We’re not suggesting that the specification of larger units is single cause for this increase. The larger the units, however, the greater the risk of serious injury, so their safe handling becomes more important.”

Insulated glazed units of 4m2 or more are now increasingly part of the standard production run. And while good for volume and good for margin, their size, cost and potential to cause injury, makes safe and controlled handling, according to Broxton, paramount.

“It can be difficult enough to handle large units on the factory floor, where you’re more likely to have the right equipment,” he said. “It’s far more difficult on site, where constraints and limitations on space, present additional challenge, making the availability of the right equipment to do the job more important than ever.”

Bohle’s range of Veribor suction lifters are designed and manufactured in-house, and they have been refined to make the manual handling of glass safer.

This includes testing by TÜV, and the subsequent accreditation (the TÜV GS mark) is an independent guarantee of performance. It also means all Veribor products meet the stringent quality and safety requirements set out in the German Product Safety Act, which is recognised internationally as setting the benchmark in safety testing.

All Bohle suction lifters are also designed to have a minimum 2:1 safety margin to reflect real world usage.

These design principles are epitomised in the Veribor blue line pump-activated suction lifter. Designed to support the safe manual handling of glass, stoneware and metal, the 601.1BL has a parallel load capacity of up to 120kg and features a high visibility pressure gauge, which gives a clear indication of the strength of the vacuum and suitability for lifting.

“Safe manual handling is absolutely reliant on your grip or the fix to the product that’s being lifted,” Dave said. “Suction lifters support far safer handing of flat surface objects by promoting a safe and secure grip.

“One of the real advantages of the Veribor blue line pump-activated suction lifter is that it includes a gauge, which gives the operative a clear indication of the strength of the vacuum, so there are no sudden losses of pressure which could lead to injury.

“This function is especially important when objects or materials with slightly porous or textured surfaces are transported, because here the vacuum diminishes more quickly than with airtight surfaces.”

These same defining principles have been applied by Bohle to the development of the LiftMaster B1 manual lifting device. With a compact design and handling weights of up to 180kg, the LiftMaster B1 has been developed to combine the safe and secure movement of glass units, with maximum flexibility.

Designed to be used with or without an electric pump, it delivers exceptional versatility, while a dual circuit vacuum system, reserve tanks, vacuum display and secondary vacuum indicator, ensure that it guarantees the highest levels of safety.

“Available separately, the BO B18DM4 lifting frame fitted to the LiftMaster B1 can be detached and crane mounted, offering tremendous versatility in the workshop,” Dave said.

“It’s also highly manoeuvrable, featuring a tiltable rack and a rotating frame, which makes it ideal for unloading or loading glass from racking, transport or processing, plus a host of other uses.”

The LiftMaster B1 packs down to fit inside an estate car.

“The glazing and glass processing industries have a reasonably good track record on safety but clearly if you’re working in any manufacturing industry, you’re exposed to an element of risk and the bigger the units or materials, the more damage they can do,” Dave said.

“Having access to the right handling equipment minimises this risk, making handling safer but also simpler and more efficient – a responsible approach to health and safety is simply good business practice.”