Steam Engine/Safety Issues

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The following information was provided by Tomas Levine:

Consider development of general guidelines for safeguarding against injury from machines with highly pressurized fluids.

Each of these suggestions relates to general use, stopping the machine quickly enough in case of some emergency and the current open prototype:

  • Make sure that a wide range of people can operate the crank, especially during an emergency.
    • Females and people with certain disabilities won't have the same physical strength as able-bodied males.
    • People with their hands full or missing could have trouble.
    • It should be clear whether you are turning it the correct way. The crank's resistance may be enough to do this. It may also be nice if you could see some change happening, like maybe if you could see what is being opened or closed.
    • Accidents happen when people are tired, stressed, drunk, untrained, &c. so the emergency procedures should be really obvious to someone who isn't mentally there.
    • Consider the resistance, shape, size and position of the crank so that that people can use it without adopting awkward postures or straining themselves too much. I gather that cranking doesn't take very long, so this may not be too important.
  • Consider whether people have enough time to operate the crank if they have to in an emergency.
  • If there's a place where someone can put his hand but shouldn't, don't assume that the person won't put it there. Here's a wonderful report with lots of pictures that discusses this in more depth than you'll need.
    • If you need access to the guts in order to adjust them and to see how they're working but not in order to tinker with them while the machine is running, maybe you could install a clear (like plexiglass) sheet to prevent people from touching them during operation. If you do this, you should make sure that people will use it. One way of doing this is to set it up so that it is impossible to operate the machine when the guard is not in place, maybe with hinges that direct it in some way that interferes with something.
  • Try to solve interface issues with something other than signage.