Health and Safety with Regards to Buttons and Switches
The dawn of the electrical age not only brought about a wide range of machinery and equipment to both assist and speed up production processes and other business operations, but with it came a multitude of buttons, switches, levers and control panels to operate this new-fangled machinery. With regards to health and safety a number of issues need to be kept in mind by those using the equipment, and those making the controls for this machinery.
One is the presence of one or more emergency stop buttons. In the event of an incident, hitting an emergency stop button can bring the machinery to an abrupt halt which can prevent, or at least limit, the damage to a person's health and welfare. Examples include people getting clothing or hair caught up in moving parts, or machinery where the pressure is building up and threatening to explode if it continued. These emergency stop buttons should be clearly labelled and easily accessible so that they can be activated in the event of an emergency. This may mean they are bigger than other buttons so they can be operated easily, and may be located in positions such as the floor. There may even be more than one so that at least one emergency stop button is close at hand should the need for its use arise.
Another issue is the accidental operation of a switch or button by a person. Although this can never be totally eliminated as humans will always have the potential to inadvertently press the wrong button, particularly if they are trying to work too fast or are under too much pressure, certain measures can be introduced to prevent accidental operation of a button or switch by means such as walking past and catching a switch or button. To prevent this, the switch or button can be indented so that it needs to be deliberately pressed in rather than just caught by someone brushing past it. They can also have covers which need to be opened before the button or switch can be operated. Obviously not all of the buttons or switches on a control panel will need to protected in this way, but the ones which can have serious consequences for people's health and safety if they are operated accidentally by just this one press will be good candidates for this extra protection.
Control panels and buttons can also be perfect breeding grounds for bacteria and the subsequent transference between people if the controls are used by different people. If possible they should be cleaned and disinfected regularly, provided that this does not damage the equipment or cause a danger such as an electrical short circuit from the liquid or fire risk.