Meat Band Saw Safety

Published at 2/27/2018 3:38 pm

Written by Bob Maxwell, CEO-Founder of RA Maxwell and Associates, now RAM Manufacturing Equipment, Corona, CA.

Meat Bandsaws are injuring employees at an alarming rate costing processors, meat markets, and the American Public millions of dollars per year. There is an answer to this problem and that will eliminate meat bandsaw accidents…….

Meat bandsaws are one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment in a food processing plant, meat market, grocery store or backyard deer processors, and custom butcher shops.
In a case study from the Occupational Medicine, Volume 57, Issue 5, 1 August 2007, Pages 383–385, Published: 02 April 2007.

The online publication stated, “the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) stated that the meatpacking industry had the highest injury rate of any industry in the country for five consecutive years (1980–85), with a rate three times that of other manufacturing industries. Statistics for 1985 indicated that of 319 workers injured during their first month of employment in the industry, 29% were cut by knives or machinery and >30% were 25 years of age or younger. That same year, OSHA also reported 1748 cases of injuries to the fingers, including 76 amputations among meatpacking industry workers.”

From 2007-2017 there were 218 OSHA reported injuries including amputations from meat bandsaws.

How many wild game butchers and custom processors have accidents on meat band saws that go unreported as “Workers’ Comp” injuries reported to OSHA. The safety of most bandsaws used outside mainstream processing businesses is basically non-existent based on my 14 years of experience.

The Author of this Blog, Bob Maxwell, has been designing, manufacturing, repairing, rebuilding, and selling meat band saws since 2004. He is regarded to be an expert in this field by many companies and equipment manufacturers in North America and Internationally.

It is amazing to me when I watch operators using a meat bandsaw and their lack of concern for their own safety. From blade guards and safeties being removed because they got in the way or slowed down their production, butcher smock sleeves that are too loose, or wearing metal mesh gloves thinking that will stop a finger or hand from being amputated.

A few months ago, I was in a processing plant and noticed an operator using a meat bandsaw in a dangerous manner. I reported my concern to the operator, his supervisor, and the owner of the company. They assured me the operator was well-trained on the meat bandsaw. He had been using the meat bandsaw for 2 years without any injuries. Several days later the operator had a serious injury to his index finger causing a Workers’ Comp claim and a visit from OSHA.

In the same case study previously mention from the Published 02 April 2007 study by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, “Band saw safety recommendations from OSHA include fostering familiarity with equipment and emergency shut off mechanisms prior to use, earplug use for noise reduction, goggle and/or face shield use during operation, removal of all loose clothing and jewelry, placement of non-slip flooring around the machine and use of self-adjusting blade guards during saw blade use. To help reduce the spread of infectious diseases, OSHA suggests that protective gloves should be worn when workers handle meat, and workers who use knives must be provided with metal mesh gloves, aprons, and wrist and forearm guards to protect them from lacerations; the use of armored (metal mesh) gloves during band saw use is specifically prohibited.”

It is not only the medical cost, rehabilitation cost, Workers’ Comp cost, liability insurance cost increases, OSHA fines, and outrageous legal costs for hearings and depositions, but it is also the loss of productivity that cannot be accounted for because it is hard to measure.

Just ten minutes in loss or reduction of productivity from each employee affected by their co-worker being injured by something as dramatic as a meat bandsaw injury, times 30 employees, costs 300 minutes or 5 hours per day. This is a VERY conservative figure.

The other loss in productivity is the operators running the meat bandsaw. Studies in Australia and New Zealand show a considerable increase in the productivity of meat bandsaw operators when using meat bandsaws that cannot injure them.

There is an answer that will ELIMINATE meat bandsaw accidents and in my “Expert” opinion and the answer is Guardian Bandsaw™ technology by Kando and the product line of Automated Bandsaws from Mainali.

Guardian Bandsaw™ technology from Kando is made in New Zealand and is designed as the safest bandsaw on the market. The rapid stop time of the blade eliminates the concern of the operator having a serious injury including amputation of their fingers or hands. The Guardian Bandsaw™ technology has two parts, (1) It uses four color optic cameras to detect when the operator comes within the designated safety zone around the blade (2) The operator wears a device. When the operator comes in contact with the meat band saw, the machine stops before the operator can come in contact with the blade.

Alternatively, Thompson Machinery’s meat band saw product line includes meat bandsaws with blade brake motor technology. When the operator activates the emergency stop button, the electric motor stops immediately, and the blade stops turning in under 3 seconds. Although it is a much slower stop time than the Guardian™ bandsaws, it is much safer than most meat bandsaw manufacturers on the market that sells meat bandsaws without ANY quick stop technology.

Mainali Automated meat band saws are another safety saw option because the operator cannot come within 3 feet of the bandsaw blade. They feature 2 types of automated meat band saws, (1) RB1 and RB2 meat band saws use a robotic type gripper system that holds the meat or bone in place and mimics what an operator would do by moving the product across the blade while the operator stands outside a safety cage surrounding the automated meat bandsaw.

The second automated meat band saw Mainali offers is the Splitting Saw. This automated meat band saw is designed to cut pig's feet, beef feet, and femur bones in half. Anything that will fit inside the hold down conveying system can be cut in half. The operator feeds the hold down conveyor approximately 2+ feet from the meat bandsaw blade. The cut product is discharged onto a takeaway conveyor or into a bin for further processing or packaging.

PLEASE don’t wait until you or your employee is injured before you change out your current meat bandsaws with Safety Meat Bandsaws.

Contact RAM Manufacturing Equipment today and one of our experienced Food Equipment Consultants would be happy to discuss your safety meat bandsaw needs.

RAM Manufacturing Equipment is a distributor of food processing equipment, supplies, parts, and service located at 235 Benjamin Dr., #102, Corona, CA 92879. (951) 734-8152 Office. RAM focuses on food processing, packaging, hygiene and sanitation, material handling like conveyors, lifts and dumpers, and custom stainless steel fabrication. and
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