Safety Alert

Meat Processing Machines fitted with safety switch actuators on  safety guarded access panels

The Health and Safety Authority is issuing this Safety Alert following a recent fatality, to employers involved in the Meat Processing Industry regarding the operation of meat processing machines.

Employers are reminded of their duty to ensure that, throughout its working life, work equipment is kept safe for use, by means of adequate maintenance, at a level such that it complies with all relevant safety legislation. Safety switch actuators are a critical safety device and must be properly maintained to ensure their effectiveness.

An identified issue which creates a particular hazard that requires special attention is:

  • The use of chemical agents in the cleaning process carried out on the machine and the factory floor can be corrosive to particular metals (e.g. Aluminum) used to construct various machines.
  • Excessive corrosion has been noted to occur where a stainless steel safety switch actuator (or “key”) (Fig 1) is mounted on an aluminum mounting block attached to a service access panel. (Fig 2)figure-1.-key
  • The corrosion compromises the fixing hardware and may cause the safety switch actuator (or “key”) to remain in the switch safety body when the service access panel is opened. (Fig 3)

Employers who own and operate such meat processing machines are advised to have all fitted safety switching assessed to determine if there is a buildup of corroded material on the safety switching hardware and its mounting blocks. Employers should ensure that competent persons inspect the safety equipment to confirm that they are securely fixed to the available mounts and that the fixings are not compromised by corrosion.

Employers in consultation with suppliers should assess whether the hazard can be removed using redesigned safety measures or by the provision of technical measures to prevent a failure of the safety equipment which might lead to a critical safety failure. In addition, regular and frequent periodic inspections of all safety switch assemblies should be adopted as prescribed under Regulation 30 of the Safety Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007.


Fig 2. Example of a corroded Safety Switch Actuator Mounting Block


Fig 3. Safety Switch ¬ Mounting Block with actuator removed showing corrosion present