KANBrief 4/14

Baling presses and compactors: three new European

Numerous severe accidents occur every year on baling presses and compactors, mostly due to operators falling or reaching into the baling or compacting chamber. A number of fatal accidents have resulted from people being crushed by the moving compression plate or compacting part. Three ENs have been prepared to promote safe design of these machines for the European market and thus reduce the number of accidents.

Several years ago, the British OHS institute HSE began alerting the European OHS community to frequent and severe accidents on horizontal baling presses for waste material. A similar concern was expressed by the German Social Accident Insurance Institution for the trade and distribution industry (BGHW). In France, the focus was placed on waste compactors, which had caused several accidents.

Experts from France, Germany and the United Kingdom met several times from 2007 onwards to prepare a pre-draft European standard for horizontal baling presses, which was then forwarded to CEN via DIN. The EUROSHNET network was used to ask OHS colleagues from other countries to support the development of a standard. The CEN consultation received a majority of positive responses, which led to the creation of CEN/TC 397, “Project Committee – Baling presses – Safety requirements”.

Standardization work begins

The first European meeting of CEN/TC 397 was held in Mannheim in September 2009. The 30 participants from 8 countries (Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom) included OHS experts, manufacturers, users and public authorities. The decision was taken to prepare three standards covering different types of compacting machine. Due to the rules governing Project Committees in CEN, it was necessary to prepare the three standards in parallel; the leadership was therefore shared between Denmark (vertical balers), Germany (horizontal balers) and the United Kingdom (compactors).

Several European meetings had to be held in a comparatively short space of time in order for the CEN deadlines to be met. All meetings were prepared for in national mirror groups that worked very intensively. It appeared that the safety practices concerning machines for compacting waste materials or recyclable fractions differed strongly at times from one country to the next; this gave rise to heated discussion. However, thanks to the presence of various stakeholders in the national mirror groups, an in-depth exchange of knowledge took place, mutual confidence increased and consensus was found.

The result: three new standards

EN 16252:2012: Horizontal baling presses are large machines, mostly used in waste sorting plants and fed mechanically by conveyors.

EN 16486:2014: Compactors can be static, transportable, or have traversing systems. They can be installed in many settings, including industrial or commercial premises and areas accessible to the public such as markets.

EN 16500:2014: Vertical baling presses are usually smaller machines used in trade and industry. They can vary in size, type of power supply and mode of bale ejection.

Many hazards were identified, but the main focus during development of the standards was to prevent access to the baling or compacting chamber during operation, particularly during unblocking or other machine interventions. Another major concern of CEN/TC 397 was to avoid overlap with existing standards in the waste management sector.

Cooperation is the key to success

The keywords for CEN/TC 397 were intensive participation by various stakeholders, in both the national and European committees, and cooperation at different levels: between the OHS experts involved, manufacturers, users and other safety experts; with the CEN consultants, who agreed to give advice on the new standards on several occasions; and within the editing committee, which sought to ensure that the standards were understandable by those who will use them.

This very special experience, in which the OHS institutes of several European countries jointly initiated standardization work for machines that had caused a significant number of injuries, including fatalities, proved to be very effective. Such an initiative could be considered again in the future if a safety need arose.

Kirsty Storer (HSE), Kirsty.Storer@hse.gsi.gov.uk
Jocelyne Jolly (INRS), jocelyne.jolly@inrs.fr
Michael Thierbach (KAN), thierbach@kan.de