An Edge Bander Accident in a Cabinet Shop
In the early eighties I worked for a large kitchen cabinet manufacturing firm. The use of an edge bander for applying many types of edges on cabinetry parts was a daily activity. Stock rips for building cabinets would get PVC edges applied and also melamine doors would be edged all the way around. We even used the machine for applying three eights of inch thick wood edges on doors that were laminated with Formica plastic laminate.
Because the kitchen cabinet manufacturing plant was such a large company, we were always hiring new people because someone had either gotten fired or quit for whatever reason.
The accident that occurred on the edge bander was due to an inexperienced young man who had only been working for the company for a few days. He had been assigned as a catcher. As the operator of the machine would feed the materials into the conveyer system at the beginning of the process, the “catcher” would grab them and place them on a cart when the edge-bander was finished adhering and trimming the edging that was applied to the kitchen cabinetry part.
On the day of the accident, the operator allowed the new recruit to come behind the machine where all of the working parts were located while he was clearing away some debris from the operating mechanisms. They were located in the area where the small saw blades were located that would trim the extra end-edging off of the wood. The circular blades were powered up and running at full speed. Because this was an older machine, there were no shields to protect or stop someone from reaching into the area.
The young man, without being instructed to do so, reached into an area to pull out some debris. He accidentally hit one of the metal “trip-switch bars” and it caused one of the saw blades to activate as if it were trimming off an edge. The upward motion of the operation caused his hand to be severely severed.
The edge bander accident was horrible. Even after several months and three surgeries, his hand was still very difficult to use. Accidents in a cabinet shop will always occur, but they can be avoided by not allowing new recruits to go anywhere near danger zones around the machines. Only experienced operators should be able to work in areas where the machines are running. Safety meetings should be held relating the dangers of all the equipment that people will be working on.