What to Do if You are Issued an OSHA Citation

The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency responsible for overseeing workplace safety. On the federal level, OSHA conducted 24,333 inspections in 2021. Of these 24,333 inspections, 10,584 (about 43 percent) were programmed inspections that focused OSHA’s enforcement resources towards industries and operations where known hazards exist.

If a violation is discovered during the course of an inspection, a citation may be issued. Citations serve as warnings, signaling the employer to take action to resolve the violation. When an employer receives an OSHA Notice, they must either post it, or a copy of it, at or near the place where each violation occurred as to make employees aware of the hazards to which they may be exposed. The OSHA Notice must remain posted for 3 working days or until the hazard is abated, whichever is longer. (Saturdays, Sundays and Federal holidays are not counted as working days).

Enforcement of machine guarding regulations is part of OSHA’s mission. OSHA requires that “any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury” be addressed as to eliminate or reduce risk based on hazardous exposures. In addition to the primary hazardous point-of-operation exposure, different functions, componentry, and processes sometimes need to be addressed on a single machine, or within a single manufacturing process, as well.  OSHA may also require secondary safeguarding devices, such as lighted beacons, audible alarms, and perimeter-style barrier guarding in some instances.

Despite regulations outlined in OSHA 1910.212, and the serious dangers posed by industrial equipment, machine guarding violations remain one of the top ten most common OSHA citations. Machine guarding violations also holds the dubious distinction of making the list of OSHA’s largest monetary penalties.

In this blog, we will discuss what a citation is, and how Rockford Systems can assist you in the event you are issued one.

WHAT IS AN OSHA CITATION?

An OSHA citation is similar to a complaint filed in court. That means it contains allegations of a violation, not conclusive findings. And while an OSHA citation may certainly look like a final ruling, sometimes including an invoice and a notice of debt collection, it is not a final legal document. The citation only becomes final after the employer:

  • Agrees with the citation or some modification thereof through a settlement.
  • Fails to contest the citation within fifteen working days.
  • Contests the citation, but loses during the administrative litigation process.

By law, OSHA must conduct an investigation before issuing a citation, most likely after an OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officer conducts an on-site inspection. An investigation file will likely exist that contains evidence that supports OSHA’s citation. Unless the employer contests the citation and proceeds to the administrative litigation process, it’s possible that they are unaware as to exactly what is in an investigation file.

An OSHA citation should never be ignored. If an employer is not sure if they want to contest the citation, they can schedule an informal conference with an OSHA area director, a practice that OSHA encourages. An extension of any amount of time beyond the fifteen working days will not be granted unless the employer submits a Petition for Modification of Abatement showing the steps it has taken to achieve compliance. If the employer fails to remedy the situation by the abatement date, the citation becomes final and its fines must be paid. Simply paying the fine, however, does not get the employer off the hook. An employer still must correct the violation or could be cited for either a repeat, or possibly even willful violation in the future. OSHA also has the right to shut down the worksite to protect employees.

Let’s now explore three words that are extremely important to an OSHA violation: repeat, willful and serious.

  • Repeat violations are where OSHA determines that there have been similar violations within the last three years.
  • Willful violations are committed voluntarily or with indifference or disregard to the law.
  • Serious violations refer to situations where an employer knows that there is a hazard present that could result in either injury or death. OSHA uses another term, “other-than-serious” violations, for situations that likely will not result in injury or death but still may compromise health.

Maximum penalty for a serious violation is currently $14,502 per violation, while willful or repeated violations can result in penalties up to $145,027 per violation. OSHA does not fine employees for workplace and jobsite safety violations, only employers whos’ duty it is to provide a safe working environment compliant with OSHA regulation. Any possible reduction in penalty is at the discretion of the OSHA Compliance Officer, and factors such as size of the company, safety history, and good faith of the employer can all weigh in as to penalties assessed.

CONTESTING A CITATION

If an employer agrees to the citation, they must pay the fine within fifteen days, along with correcting the violation by the abatement date indicated on the notice.

An employer has the right to contest part or all of any notice that they receive. If only part of the notice is contested — such as the abatement date, penalty amount, or certain violations listed in the citation — than the employer still must correct the corresponding violations and pay the fines for the other parts of a notice that they are not contesting.

In contesting a citation, it is highly recommended that you enlist an experienced, knowledgeable safety professional to join you at both the informal and formal administrative hearings. An outside expert can also help guide an employer’s on-site investigation, and conduct a machine safeguarding audit with specific recommendations as to corrective actions and equipment.

During an OSHA hearing the employer should be prepared to share:

  • A detailed, written safety policy that addresses common or uncommon machinery hazards an employee may encounter.
  • Accurate records of all workplace accidents, injuries, illnesses, and deaths.
  • Classroom and field training schedules that teach employees proper safety procedures for both everyday work and in case of an emergency.
  • Administrative records demonstrating enforcement of company safety rules.
  • Up to date machine safeguarding audit records and documented corrective actions taken, if any, since the citation was issued.

AVOIDING CITATIONS

OSHA fines can be costly, and the process of contesting a machine guarding citation can be lengthy. The best way to avoid having to spend both time and money on an OSHA citation is to prevent one in the first place. Rockford Systems offers several services that will keep your employees safe and your business, including:

  • Safeguarding Policy Development: After conducting a baseline compliance evaluation and report, Rockford Systems will create the written program with a strategy for implementing any shortcomings in machine safeguarding. Employee training, ongoing safeguarding improvements, and an annual audit program round out the policy.
  • Machine Risk Assessment: Leveraging an experienced team of safeguarding specialists, all of whom have dedicated OSHA regulation and ANSI/NFPA 79 standards expertise, a Risk Assessment may provide an organization with a thorough understanding of its machine hazards. It is a proven, methodical tool to identify and document the hazards, as well as quantify and prioritize risk reduction efforts according to an associated risk score. A risk assessment will help you to identify hazards, but may not necessarily lead you to a solution in eliminating or reducing hazard in all cases.
  • Machine Safeguarding Assessment: This style of assessment is designed for companies who need safeguarding solutions and associated costs. It uses an organization’s machine list, machine task and hazard data gathered during the assessment, electrical schematics and our proprietary RSXpress™ mobile inspection tool that allows our safety professionals to perform a full assessment in determining compliance with OSHA regulation and ANSI/NFPA 79 standards.
  • A Machine Safeguarding Assessment is delivered with a complete compliance report and machine safeguarding project proposal.

Finally, Rockford Systems offers an Emergency Response service that can be scheduled for the same or next business day following an unplanned downtime incident or employee accident, depending upon the severity of the situation. Upon completion of the Emergency Response Assessment, Rockford Systems provides customers with a quick-turn, high-quality, comprehensive safeguarding report and proposal that outlines findings, suggesting ways to reduce risk and become compliant. Professional recommendations are provided in the areas of guards, devices, awareness barriers/devices, safeguarding methods and safe work practices, all referencing applicable OSHA regulations and ANSI/NFPA standards. In some cases, OSHA officials may even grant companies time extensions if it has demonstrated “Good Faith” efforts, such as hiring an outside expert to conduct an emergency response assessment.

 

How Rockford Systems Light Curtains Can Brighten Employee Safety in Your Plant

At first glance, a simple beam of infrared light would seem ineffective protection against fast-moving, dangerous industrial machinery. After all, isn’t that what heavy-duty steel guards are for? Yet, these beams of infrared light, when utilized as a component of “safety light curtains,” have prevented thousands of employee injuries and saved countless lives. Unlike other types of more bulky safeguards, such as physical barriers, light curtains make it easier to access equipment while performing maintenance or semi-automatic processes that require human interaction. Whether they are used to reduce exposure to point-of-operation hazards, or as a perimeter guarding device, being lightweight and compact makes light curtains ideal for machinery, robots or areas that require frequent access for purposes of material feeding, maintenance, repair, setup or the need to be adapted quickly to layout changes on a plant floor.

Light curtains are defined as being presence-sensing optoelectronic devices, and are often used as a component within an overall safety system in meeting nationally recognized safety regulations and standards, such as OSHA or ANSI (B11.19-2019). The most common application of light curtains is to detect people or objects passing through a perimeter boundary, or close to protect from direct contact with a machine’s point-of-operation. “Point of Operation” in this instance refers to where production material is being positioned for punching, bending, cutting, machining or where any type of hazardous motion is present. This is why light curtains are installed onto power presses and metal forming machines to protect the operator’s hands or fingers from crush injuries.

Transmitters and Receivers

Although light curtains come in a wide variety of designs, the two common features that make them alike are a transmitter and receiver. Transmitters units have a series of LEDs that emit an array of synchronized, parallel infrared light beams to a separate receiver unit on the other end. The receiver has a corresponding array of photo-diodes that automatically synchronize with the transmitter LEDs, in effect, “receiving” the pulses. Receiver circuitry is designed to detect only the specific pulse and frequency designated for it, preventing external light sources from being sensed. These systems can be mounted vertically, horizontally, or on any angle depending on the application. The only requirement is that the transmitter must align with the receiver when installed.

It is important to note that light curtains differ from other photoelectric sensors in that they have self-monitoring circuitry. When photoelectric cells from the transmitter are interrupted by an opaque object, this event triggers an output signal that is typically fed to a safety relay device delivering redundant protection. For example, if a person steps into a prohibited zone, this safety relay would signal to the machine to stop anywhere in its cycle or stroke to prevent a potentially catastrophic accident. Light curtains should only be used on machinery that can be quickly stopped anywhere within the machine’s cycle, and should never be used on any machine with a full-revolution clutch.

Once tripped, a conscious action is required on behalf of the operator to re-start the machine cycle after the source of the light curtain interruption is addressed. Prior Action Stations must be located outside yet within view of the protected area to prevent the inadvertent automatic or continuous resumption of the machine. Depending on the light curtain and its application, a separate enclosure may hold various diagnostic indicators, power supply, user controls and control logics that cannot be installed within the receiver.

Another light curtain design worth noting is an “active passive system” consisting of two unique devices. One both emits and receives beams while the other device essentially acts as a mirror to deflect the beams back to the receiver. While this approach minimizes overall costs and wiring, an active passive system reduces the intensity of the light beam and therefore normally has a much shorter operating range than a standard system. Mirrors will reduce the operating range of a light curtain by up to 18% per mirror, depending on the type of mirror installed.

Blanking & Muting

As mentioned earlier, light curtains come in a wide variety of resolutions and IP ratings. Other more advanced features have to do with minimizing the disruption to factory flow caused by machinery being completely shutdown when light beams detect an obstruction. Two worth noting are “blanking” and “muting” — two terms that are frequently used interchangeably yet incorrectly. Muting is the temporary automatic suspension of the entire curtain while a non-hazardous portion of the machine cycle is being performed, for example, during a press’s up stroke. Blanking is more complex. Instead of muting the entire sensing field, blanking is the bypassing of only a portion of it, leaving the rest of the light curtain active. Blanking finds utility when material is fed through the sensing field while the machine is in motion. Obviously, care must be taken to ensure the operators hands, fingers or arms cannot fit through the blanked portion.

Minimum Safety Distance 

When utilizing a light curtain as a point-of hazard safeguarding device, it is important to know and understand the stopping time of your machine.  Both OSHA, ANSI, and ISO all provide formulas to calculate the safe mounting distance of a light curtain based on the stopping time of your machine.  OSHA’s formula is the base requirement, while ANSI and ISO formulas represent best safety practice, and generally result in more than a 10% increase in safe mounting distance.

Light Curtain Resolution

The resolution of a safety light curtain is its detection capability measured as the amount of separation between its laser beams. Higher resolution light curtains improve the detection capability that can sometimes allow for the light curtain to be safely mounted closer to a hazard. While a 14mm resolution is ideal for finger detection and can be deployed closer to the source of hazardous motion, a lower 25-30mm resolution is all that is required for hand detection.

Rockford Systems strongly recommends a risk assessment prior to any light curtain installation.

Status Indicator Lights

Light curtains often feature status indicators clearly visible from a distance, preventing close proximity to dangerous machinery. Red, green, and yellow lights conveniently display operating status, configuration error codes, and blocked beams.

Questions to consider when selecting a light curtain:

  • What is the stopping time of the machine or equipment? Is it sufficient to even consider a presence sensing device?
  • How large is the area needing to be protected, and are there two corners or four corners?
  • What is the required height of the protection field?
  • What is the required operating range?
  • What is the required resolution, usually measured in millimeters? The tighter the required spacing, the higher the resolution.
  • What are your mounting requirements?
  • What Performance Level (PL) is required?
  • What environmental challenges will the light curtain face, including excessive temperatures, moisture exposure, and shock/vibration that can damage the equipment? This is often measured in IP ratings.
  • What cabling and wiring is needed?

Finally, with so much on the line, it is essential to overall employee safety that you consult with an experienced machine safeguarding expert when specifying and installing a light curtain. Contact Rockford Systems to ensure that your safety needs are fully met.

 

 

What the Wave of Retiring Machinists Means to Plant Safety

Within the next decade approximately 2.7 million “Baby Boomers” (b. 1946-1964) will retire, thereby ensuring that tens of thousands of skilled, well-paid positions will become available without a ready supply of American workers to fill them. Statistics paint an especially gloomy picture for the manufacturing sector, a widening of the skills gap, and a possible dilution of existing training programs.

Compared to the rest of the economy, the impact on manufacturing of this generational shift is oversized owing to two factors:

  • One, despite increased efforts by colleges and vocational schools to train new manufacturing workers, available jobs still outpace qualified employees.
  • And two, the existing manufacturing workforce is considerably older than the national employee average of 42 years. Currently, the average age of highly skilled manufacturing employees is 56, and nearly a third of all manufacturing professionals are over 50. As they retire, knowledge goes out the door with them.

What are the implications of these trends for your plant’s productivity? How will it impact employee safety? What can you do to transfer knowledge from one generation to the next?

Safety Knowledge Gap

Besides having less experience operating machinery correctly, workers new to the job are often unsure about their safety rights and responsibilities, or might feel uncomfortable speaking out about a potential hazard. They may also not have the proper training, so they underestimate the risks involved with operating high-speed machinery. A recent survey of machinists in North America exposed that 70% couldn’t recall receiving any formal training when they were first hired on.

Equally troubling, the Millennials (b. 1980-1996), who are replacing baby boomers, are more apt to job hop — 90 percent expect to stay in a job for less than three years — leaving manufacturers with heightened turnover and a badly depleted knowledge base, especially when it comes to safety. The so-called “Great Resignation,” the unprecedented mass exit from the workforce spurred on by Covid-19, also has reduced the pool for skilled labor.

Given all this, it probably comes as little surprise that employees under the age of 25 are twice as likely to visit the emergency room for an occupational injury than those over 25. The dangers facing younger workers underscore the critical importance of machine safeguarding. The lathe, press or saw on the plant floor considered “safe” solely on the basis of being accident-free for many years is no guarantee that modern safety regulations and standards are being met. A machine mistakenly perceived as “safe” may be the most dangerous in your maintenance shop, or on your production floor.

Safeguarding Assessment

Faced with the wave of Baby Boomer retirements, many manufacturers are trying to hold on to their older workers, persuade some to return after retirement, or recruit those retired from other companies. Unfortunately, these steps only postpone the inevitable. A more meaningful first step is to conduct a thorough machine safeguarding assessment on your machinery.

A machine safeguarding assessment draws on the expertise and experience of an outside company to identify and address machine hazards before they cause accidents. Over the course of a machine safeguarding assessment, detailed information is collected concerning each machine, how the operator interacts with the machine, and the process it is tied to. Hazardous areas are pinpointed on the machine and a hazard level assigned to each machine. Evaluating this hazard level helps determine which safeguarding methods should be applied to each machine to make it safe. If a risk is not tolerable, safeguarding measures need to be applied that will reduce the risk to an acceptable level that is in accordance with applicable regulations and standards. The assessor should also accurately identify all costs associated with the final project. After installing safeguards, a follow-up assessment will be conducted to verify that risk levels have either been eliminated, or reduced to a tolerable level.

Transferring Tribal Knowledge

Retirees won’t leave behind every bit of knowledge they’ve gained over the years, but capturing a majority of the important operational details will be beneficial down the road. Your organization needs to find ways of both learning and sharing this “tribal” knowledge before experienced machinists retire.

One common way of doing so is implementing a structured training and mentoring program pairing young workers with senior people who are technically expert in complex machinery. Along with face-to-face training on the machinery, the experienced worker is there to answer questions about operating procedures, and to help the young worker learn how to operate the machinery correctly. Recognizing hazards and learning safe work practices must be a central part of training and mentoring programs so make sure they are given equal billing with productivity during conversations. Training and mentorship also play an important role in informing young workers about OSHA, every worker’s right to a safe workplace, as well as the right to refuse unsafe work. Once retired, the mentor can return on a part-time or as needed basis to continue training new hires.

Outside Training

While older machinists certainly have the experience and technical knowledge, they may not know how to teach because they aren’t professional trainers or they can’t communicate effectively with a younger generation. Others may feel that training is an additional obligation that has been hoisted upon them when they are already crunched for time.

Hiring an outside firm to teach your team about machine safety regulations and standards is another step toward overcoming dilution in training. Rockford Systems offers a variety of safety training courses, including Machine Safeguarding Seminars, Combustion Safety Training, NFPA 70E and other courses at its Training Center in Rockford, Illinois. The popular 2-day seminars combine classroom discussion with live demonstrations to give the hands-on experience that new employees need. Once the seminar is complete, the employee will be better able to interpret the OSHA 29 CRF and ANSI series standards as they relate to their specific machine applications and production requirements.

Can’t make it to Rockford? No problem. The seminars can be presented at your company and tailored to the types of machinery found at your plant.

Annual Audits

Rockford Systems also offers an Annual Verification Audit to verify that your properly safeguarded equipment is being used as intended to protect employees working in dangerous environments. Moreover, the audit ensures that your capital investment in providing a safe working environment is sustained and continues to be in compliance with OSHA regulation and ANSI B11 series standards, as well as meeting any internal safety policies that a company may have established.

The primary evaluation criteria for the audit are visual inspection and function testing of safeguarding, controls, disconnects, motor starters, and mechanical power transmission apparatus covers. Once an audit is completed, Rockford Systems identifies issues in a detailed report highlighting deficiencies or changes from the original project specifications and recommendations for corrective actions to bring the equipment back into compliance.

Final Thoughts

A perfect storm has formed, making it increasingly difficult for manufacturers to find and train labor. The retirement of tenured and experienced machinists only makes matters more challenging. To ensure plant productivity and safety needs are continuously met despite retirements, take proactive steps through working to develop and promote training and mentorship programs, properly safeguarding your machinery, and conducting annual verification audits to ensure that your safety program is being followed as intended.

For more information, visit www.rockfordsystems.com

 

Do’s and Don’ts of Safely Using Bench Grinders

Statistics indicate half of grinder accidents result from operator error

Because grinders are commonly used machines in workplaces nationwide, many workers become complacent about their hazards. However, grinders are very dangerous when used improperly. In fact, statistics show that more than half of grinder injuries are the result of operator error. Rockford Systems, LLC, a premier provider of machine safeguarding products and services, offers this primer on grinder safety regulations to help prevent accidents and even fatalities.

First off, it is important to be fully versed in the regulations that outline safe grinder installation, maintenance and operation. The workplace regulations that apply to grinders are OSHA 29 CFR SubPart O 1910.215, a “machine specific” (vertical) regulation with a number of requirements, which if left unchecked, are often cited by OSHA as violations. ANSI B11.9-2010 (Grinders) and ANSI B7.1 2000 (Abrasive Wheels) are consensus standards that also apply. Carefully review these regulations and standards before operating any grinding machinery.

Work-Rests and Tongue-Guards 

OSHA specifies that work rests be kept adjusted to within 1/8-inch of the grinding wheel to prevent the workpiece from being jammed between the wheel and the work rest, resulting in potential wheel breakage. Because grinders run at such high RPM, wheels can  shatter when they break, causing very serious injuries, blindness and even death. In addition, the distance between the grinding wheel and the adjustable tongue guard — also known as a “spark arrestor” — must never exceed 1/4-inch. Because the wheel wears down during use, both of these dimensions must be regularly checked and adjusted.

Grinder safety gauges can be used during the installation, maintenance, and inspection of bench/pedestal grinders to ensure work-rests and tongue-guards comply with OSHA’s 1910.215 regulation and applicable ANSI standards. To do so, wait until the grinding wheel has completely stopped and the grinder is properly locked out before using a grinder safety gauge. Grinder coast-down time can take up to several minutes, which may tempt an impatient employee to use the gauge while the wheel is still rotating. This practice is very dangerous because it can cause wheel breakage.

Other advice: where grinders are concerned, personal protective equipment (PPE) usually means a full face-shield, not just safety glasses. The fact is, an employee cannot be too careful with a machine that operates at several thousand RPM. Remember to document any safety requirements set forth by OSHA as that is the best evidence that safety procedures are being followed.

Ring-Testing

OSHA requires that grinding wheels be ring tested before mounting them. This simple step prevents the inadvertent mounting of a cracked grinding wheel. Ring-Testing involves suspending the grinding wheel by its center hole, then tapping the side of the wheel with a non-metallic object. This should produce a bell-like tone if the wheel is intact. A thud, or a cracked-plate sound, indicates a cracked wheel. For larger grinders, grinding wheels are laid flat on a vibration-table with sand evenly spread over the wheel. If the wheel is cracked, the sand moves away from the crack.

To prevent cracking a wheel during the mounting procedure, employees must be very carefully trained in those procedures. This starts with making sure the wheel is properly matched to that particular grinder, using proper blotters and spacers, and knowing exactly how much pressure to exert with a torque-wrench, just to mention a few things.

Wheel Covers 

This OSHA-compliant Wheel-Cover allows no more than a total of 90 degrees of the wheel left exposed. (65 degrees from horizontal plane to the top of wheel-cover). Never exceed these wheel-cover maximum opening dimensions. Larger wheel-cover openings create a wider pattern of flying debris should the wheel explode.

A well-recognized safety precaution on bench/pedestal grinders is to stand well off to the side of the wheel for the first full minute before using the machine. Accidents have shown that grinding wheels are most likely to shatter/explode during that first minute. OSHA Instruction Standard #STD 1-12.8 October 30, 1978 addresses the conditional and temporary removal of the “Work Rest” for use only with larger piece parts based on the condition that “Side Guards” are provided.

Grinder Do’s

  • Always handle and store wheels in a careful manner
  • Visually inspect all the wheels before mounting for possible damage
  • Make sure operating speed of machine does not exceed speed marked on wheel, its blotter or container
  • Check mounting flanges for equal size, relieved as required and correct diameter
  • Use mounting blotters when supplied with wheels
  • Be sure work rest is properly adjusted on bench pedestal and floor stand grinders
  • Always use safety guard that covers a minimum of one-half the grinding wheel
  • Allow newly mounted wheels to run at operating speed, with guard in place, for at least one minute before grinding
  • Always wear safety glasses or some type of approved eye protection while grinding
  • Turn off coolant before stopping wheel to avoid creating an out-of-balance condition

 

Grind Don’ts

  • Don’t use a wheel that has been dropped or appears to have been abused
  • Don’t force a wheel onto a machine or alter the size of the mounting hole – If a wheel won’t fit the machine, get one that will
  • Don’t ever exceed maximum operating speed established for the wheel
  • Don’t use mounting flanges on which the bearing surfaces are not clean, flat And smooth
  • Don’t tighten the mounting nut excessively
  • Don’t grind on the side of conventional, straight or Type 1 wheels
  • Don’t start the machine until the safety guard is properly and securely In place
  • Don’t jam work into the wheel
  • Don’t stand directly In front of a grinding wheel whenever a grinder is started
  • Don’t grind material for which the wheel Is not designed

 

Rockford Systems offers a wide variety of safeguarding products for grinders including motor starters, disconnect switches, and shields.

For more information, visit www.rockfordsystems.com.

Rockford Systems Introduces Protector Series Light Curtains with Expanded Features

Reliable detection, advanced safety functions, combined with simplified selection, installation and maintenance

ROCKFORD, IL, FEBRUARY 3, 2022 — Rockford Systems, LLC today introduced its new Protector Series Light Curtains for safeguarding personnel near industrial machinery with the potential to cause injury. Protector Series Light Curtains feature bi-color alignment indicators, simplified resolution settings, automatic diagnostics, remote fixed blanking, and can be interconnected in a cascading configuration. Built for ease-of-use, they also provide for hassle-free installations that eliminate software, DIP switches, and expensive components from the process. Brackets and connecting cables are all included, as a kitted solution, for faster, more cost-effective light curtain installations.

“Protector Series Light Curtains are the latest example of Rockford Systems’ unmatched ability to provide end-to-end safety solutions, from industry-leading OSHA training and more than 6,000 innovative safeguarding products to comprehensive on-site audits,” said Matt Brenner, Vice President and General Manager-Rockford Systems Machine Safeguarding. ”Rockford Systems has drawn on decades of applications expertise to enhance the light curtain selection and integration process resulting in an improved overall user experience.”

Faster Set-Up, Easier Maintenance
Designed to reduce setup and maintenance time, Protector Series Light Curtains feature bright bi-color alignment indicators that run the length of the receiver window. In the event a sensor is not aligned properly or if the window requires cleaning, green lights will switch to red to instantly identify the problem area. Optional remote indicators can be purchased for long distance monitoring of light curtain status to further support safety and productivity goals.

Protector Series Light Curtains employ dual-scan technology that makes its photodiodes highly immune to EMI, RFI, ambient light, weld flash and strobe lights that may compromise sensor performance. Damage from impact is greatly reduced by a design that recesses the unit’s windows 5mm into the housing to prevent direct contact with the sensors. Emitters and receivers are both contained inside of 3mm thick industrial grade aluminum housings with durable metal end-caps.

For those applications that require multi-sided protection where mirrors cannot be used, up to four Protector Series Light Curtain systems of any length, resolution, and beam number can be easily configured. Cascading Protector Series Light Curtains minimize wiring, while simplifying the safety circuit, resulting in lower Total Cost of Ownership.

Protector Series Light Curtains are also ideal for industries subject to frequent washdowns or water spray, such as food, beverage and pharmaceutical processing. They are rated IP65/IP67 so they offer total protection from low-pressure water jets and more substantial liquid ingress or immersion.

Simplified Ordering
Customers can select whichever features best suit their application. Protector Series Light Curtain designs will accommodate more than 90% of all point-of-operation applications, coming in a choice of three common resolutions — 14mm (finger detection), 23mm (hand detection) and 40mm (body detection) — for each light curtain length. All three resolutions have a range of up to 12 meters (39 feet) coinciding with the needs of most manufacturing settings. Rockford System’s customer service professionals are ready to assist online, on-site, or over the phone in helping specify the proper light curtain for the application.

Brenner commented: “As demand for machine safeguarding continues to expand, so does the need for manufacturers to employ the proven performance of light curtains as a risk reduction measure. Ensuring simple, yet advanced solutions in light curtains also extends to their selection, purchasing and installation process.”