Don't Get Wrapped Up in Workplace Injury: Stretch Wrapper Safety

    Rick WilliamsPosted on October 02, 2019

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    Even when it’s done correctly, wrapping can be a difficult and strenuous job for your employees. This is especially true when your team is still wrapping by hand. Hand wrapping is a common cause of back injuries and is associated with other risks.

    Switching to a stretch wrapper could help your team stay safer. These machines include safety features designed to protect operators and reduce the number of injuries on the floor. When your team is properly trained to use them, they can improve safety and productivity.

    Stretch Wrappers Reduce Back Strain and Injuries

    Back injuries are relatively common in plants that still use hand-wrapping processes. Your team members have to complete several tasks that can cause strain, such as bending over and reaching down, carrying a 10-pound roll of film, and pulling with enough force to tie the pallet together. Hand wrapping is also connected with repetitive motion injuries, one of the most common safety hazards in the warehouse.

    A stretch wrap machine eliminates these risks. The machine will apply the force to tie the pallet together, and there’s no need for your employees to move the film rolls from place to place. Instead, the film is loaded into the machine.

    Reduce Risks of Lifting

    Stretch wrappers can also improve safety and the risks of injury by eliminating the need for employees to life. Usually, workers must lift film rolls over their heads to secure the top of the load. This can cause strain on the back and arms. It also poses a risk of injury if an employee loses grip and drops the roll.

    A stretch wrapper eliminates these worries since it can secure the top of the load without the same risky lifting process.

    Stop Employees from Running Circles

    Hand-wrapping procedures require employees to circle the pallet, sometimes several times to get the load wrapped properly. For some employees, this may result in dizziness. A dizzy spell could lead to a fall or other injuries.

    Another common cause of falls is tripping, and it’s easy to stumble over debris on the floor while you’re manually wrapping. Some hand wrap even requires the worker to circle the pallet walking backwards, increasing the likelihood of tripping and falling. While it is important to keep workspaces tidy, it isn’t always possible during a job. 

    A stretch wrapper uses a turntable to rotate the pallet and wrap everything up tight, so there’s no need to worry about anyone getting tripped up and taking a spill.

    Options to Mitigate Machine Risks

    There’s no question that stretch wrappers can be much safer than hand wrapping, but the machines do come with their own risks. The good news is that most of them can easily be reduced.

    Guard barriers for a stretch wrapper help keep your employees even safer. A post and chain, a cage, electronic eyes or a guardrail system keep workers from getting loose clothing or hands caught up in moving parts.

    It’s important to take note of the features on the machine itself, such as an automatic stop. This allows the machine to detect when the film breaks and then stop itself. Operators won’t have to try to reattach film to a rotating load, which could result in injury.

    Roller guards should also be installed, to prevent loose clothing or the operator’s hands from being pulled into the system when the film delivery system is working.

    Train Your Team

    One of the most important elements of stretch wrapper safety is training employees. Your team should be able to easily match load sizes to the turntable, and be aware of proper protocols for moving a portable stretch wrapping machine.

    Other aspects of training include reminding your team never to step onto the platform or to move between the mast and the load.

    When everyone is on the same page, you’ll be able to keep your team safer and happier.

    Rick Williams

    Rick Williams has been employed in the packaging industry for the past 35 years, with a primary focus in the areas of semi-automatic and automatic equipment sales in conjunction with a wide variety of strapping tools. Rick is well-versed in consumable sales and their applications and has taken part in several packaging-related sales training and equipment forums over the years. In his spare time, Rick enjoys golfing and spending time with friends and family. He has also recently taken up recreational snowmobiling, although the lack of snow has not been favourable to enjoy the hundreds of miles of groomed trails Southern Ontario has to offer.

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