01 Feb Safety Spring Covers
Don’t Put Off These Inexpensive Safety Measures
Safety should always a priority in any business to protect personnel and equipment. And, safety sleeve spring covers may be one of the least expensive solutions, but often overlooked until a spring breakage sends a staff member to the emergency room.by Bill Hood, Bill Hood Consulting
If you have springs on your equipment, they need to be covered with safety sleeve spring covers. Over time, the springs will experience fatigue and break – shattering into many small pieces. When the springs break there is the risk that pieces from the high-tension springs will become airborne and injure individuals nearby. Small pieces of the broken spring may travel up to 30-feet or more, endangering individuals and nearby equipment.
The safety sleeve spring covers are designed to cover high-tension springs on screenprinting presses, substrate drying racks or really anywhere high tension spring are used. The safety sleeve should completely cover the entire spring when the spring is fully extended as most breaks occur during expansion. And the sleeve should cover the ends where most breaks are likely to occur.
An especially important consideration when deciding to purchase equipment is to ensure that the press can accommodate a turnbuckle or an “S” hook at both ends of the spring. The turnbuckle allows for adjustment of the spring as it weakens. Without an “S” hook in place, there is a risk that the spring will break at the hook on the end and unless this hook is covered with the safety sleeve spring cover material, the broken pieces can become airborne. You will note that the press in the photo above does not have the “S” hooks from the manufacturer and the use of shorter springs to cut manufacturing costs makes it difficult to install an “S” hook.
Be sure that the safety sleeve spring covers are made of an expandable mesh of a solvent-resistant material. The word expandable is a bit of a misnomer, causing confusion, as the safety sleeve is already expanded when at rest. When the spring is not under expansion, the sleeve becomes “inextended” and the mesh openings become smaller, which helps to prevent the smallest particles of metal from becoming airborne in the instance of shattering.
Some manufacturers install these safety sleeve spring covers on every press they ship. But in this age of cutting corners to reduce cost, some manufacturers no longer install the sleeves on their press, as can be seen in the photo to the right. Instead, they believe that shop safety is the concern of the owner, just as ghost haze manufacturers do not include personal protection equipment such as safety glasses and nitrile aprons with their product.
Safety sleeve spring covers are available worldwide in a variety of materials, colors and even in distinctive color patterns. Like all plastics, they do disintegrate over time and should be replaced at the first sign of brittleness. When ordering, you should always purchase double the length of what is needed on the equipment, so that you have backup material in stock. Keep the backup material stored in a cool, darkened area away from direct light, which will extend the life of the material.
The inexpensive PET material is available from better distributors and often at local home improvement centers as “Expandable Braided Sleeve.” Be aware that you will need a diameter that fits the springs on your equipment. If not available locally, you can order the safety sleeve spring covers in 3-foot lengths from Graphic Parts International online.