Safety Tips Machinery

Compacting safety

Compacting and baling machines have uses in many industries, and also are involved in a number of fatalities and serious injuries. Often, lack of proper lockout/tagout procedures is to blame. Many workers have been killed while attempting to clear a jam from an operating compactor, or inadvertently activating equipment that was not properly de-energized. Proper employee training paired with functioning machine guards and safety devices are essential to fully protect workers, according to NIOSH.


Workers may be unaware that a machine remains operational even during a jam. Unless the power supply to the equipment is cut, a worker can activate it inadvertently. Be certain employees are properly trained to de-energize equipment before clearing a jam or when performing maintenance on compactors and balers. Lockout/ tagout training should include:

  • A clear outline of the hazards of working with the machine
  • Identification and clear marking of all power disconnects
  • Steps to shut down and secure the machine
  • Designating safe placement and removal of lockout/tagout devices and the person who is responsible for them
  • Notification process to be followed before lockout/tagout devices are applied and before they are removed from a machine

Machine guarding

Machine guards must be used on all compactors and balers. Newer machines should already be equipped with point-of-operation guards, but older machinery may need to be retrofitted. Workers should not be able to easily bypass guards.

Compacting and baling equipment attached to a conveyer should be interconnected so that a single lockable device will de-energize and isolate power to both machines. If this is not done, workers may mistakenly believe that shutting off power to the conveyer de-energizes the baler as well. All emergency stop devices also should be interconnected.

Work practices

Jams are common occurrences with this type of equipment. Employers should develop, implement and enforce safe procedures for handling jams.

Employers also should establish procedures for accounting for the location of all workers before activating compactors or balers. Fatalities have occurred when workers have started equipment without realizing a co-worker was inside the machine.

Young workers

Workers younger than 18 should never be assigned to service, load, operate, or assist in the operation of compacting or baling equipment. During training, ensure all employees are aware that young workers are prohibited from using the equipment.

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)