Canadian Occupational Safety

March/April 2020

Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine is the premier workplace health and safety publication in Canada. We cover a wide range of topics ranging from office to heavy industry, and from general safety management to specific workplace hazards.

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Page 29 of 35

F E A T U R E 30 SIGN OF OUR TIMES New technology is changing the way safety messages are communicated in industrial work sites. Linda Johnson reports on how projected safety signage based on LED and laser light may help raise hazard awareness and combat complacency. IN May 2013, a worker in a meat- packing plant in Ontario was operating a forklift when he collided with material being moved by a co-worker. The worker suffered a broken ankle. Four years later, the company, Concord Premium Meats, was found guilty of violating the province's Industrial Establishments Regulation and fined $55,000. Among the violations was the failure "to ensure barriers, warning signs or other safeguards for the protection of all workers were used where vehicle or pedestrian traffic may endanger the safety of any worker." Safety signs are an essential feature of industrial work sites, where workers are in constant proximity with heavy machinery and vehicles. Traditionally, safety warnings and directives have been communicated to workers by painted or adhesive signage on floors and walls. In the last few years, new light technologies have led to a completely different kind of signage. Projected images may be set to replace conventional, fixed signage. "We have the ability to change and create any kind of signage," says Atul Garg, vice-president of operations at Toronto-based Laserglow Technologies. "Any kind of signage there is in the industrial space, we can create those using our projector-based technology." In a basic setup, a projector — mounted overhead on a beam in the ceiling — projects an image down onto the floor. Projectors consist of three main elements: the projector body, image template and lens angle. Projectors today tend to be highly durable. According to an international enclosure rating system, most are rated IP65, indicating the units are sealed off about four years ago and has greatly accelerated in the last two to three years. There are two different projected systems: one based on LED technology (light-emitting diodes); the other on laser light. Recent advances in light technology have made it possible to produce bright, colourful, clear and crisp imagery onto a factory floor, says Mark Wray, CEO of Old Hickory, Tenn.-based LTBLtech. "And the image doesn't degrade. No matter what is on that floor, no matter the condition of the floor, no matter how much transportation goes across that image, the quality of that image will remain exactly the same from the time it is deployed until the light engine dies — and depending on the harshness of the environment, that light engine can survive anywhere from 14,000 hours up to 40,000 hours," he says. APPLICATIONS Most often, projected signage is used to display traffic control signage on walls and floors in high-traffic areas. Typically, these signs have warnings such as "Stop," "Yield" and "Danger Forklift Traffic." "The most common problem in these areas is forklift traffic and pedestrian from dust and dirt and are protected against water projected from a nozzle — a hazard in food-processing sites. The image template determines the image to be displayed on the floor. Similar to a photographic slide, it can be changed out for another image when needed; for example, if the layout of the warehouse changes. Signs can range from standard warnings, such as "Slow" or "Fire Extinguisher," to more customized messages, such as "Safety Shoes Required" or "Eye Protection Area." The template is often called a gobo, or "go before optic." The lens angle goes in front of the image template and allows the user to focus the image on the surface where the image is to appear. Different types of angle lenses can be put on the projector to increase or decrease the size of the projection. Projected signage systems are intended to be plug-and-play, so generally no training is needed to handle them. A maintenance worker or person with basic electrical knowledge should be able to install and operate the system. The use of projected safety signage, made possible by the development of the 300-watt LED projector, began traffic. There are many accidents there — where the forklifts don't see the pedestrians and run into them or the pedestrians walk into these aisles where the forklifts are supposed to be driving," says Uli Theissen, CEO and owner at Scotts Valley, Calif.-based GoboSource Projection Systems. Safety managers can also use projected signage to replace painted or taped pedestrian-safe aisles, using either projected LED or laser light. Overhead projectors casting bright LED light can be set up to create two thick, coloured lines along the floor. Projectors can also be used to create the familiar, solid-colour or striped walkway. For long walkways, more than one projector is needed. Alternatively, high-intensity lasers can be used to produce virtual lines along floors and other surfaces to demarcate pedestrian lanes and other zones, such as staging areas where pallets or equipment are supposed to go. By installing two overhead lasers that project parallel lines or stripes along the floor, a manager can create a safe lane or walkway. If the lane is beside a wall, only one overhead laser may be needed to create the lane. Virtual laser lines are also used to create lanes to guide truck drivers into warehouses, helping them stay in their designated lanes and away from pedestrians. "The lasers are very efficient; they can generate a very long line with a single laser," Theissen says. "The lasers used in these environments are classified as laser class 3R, so they are absolutely eye safe. You can look into the laser beam without any problem." Projected signage can be used on overhead cranes. The projector casts "Stickers and paint wear quickly and need to be constantly replaced. In high- traffic environments, that can be as often as every three weeks to every six weeks." Atul Garg, Laserglow Technologies

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