10 steps to achieving machine safety in the workplace - Page 2Written by Mary Del Ciancio 21 November 2011
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"Safeguarding standards, robot safeguarding, press safeguarding - Those standards exist and are created by organizations like the CSA to help show people how to achieve safety around their machinery, as opposed to the why," says Wilson. "And really they do represent the latest technology, the latest thinking."
Osmond calls machine safety standards "the minimum requirements." He uses an example from a colleague: "If your kids come home from school and they get a D, [do] we all celebrate and take them to McDonalds? No, that's not the case. We don't celebrate. We actually work them towards the A. And I think that's what's important for [end users] to understand. Just getting the minimum requirements, getting a D, is sometimes not enough."
7. Safe design.
Loftus says that the best way to avoid the misapplication of safeguarding devices is to engineer the hazard out of the machinery during the design phase.
"If I can eliminate the hazard, there's no need for any of this [safety] equipment or very little of it," he says. "Now I have less restrictions on my machinery, probably easier flow, your operator is now closer to the work...We have some cells where the operators are back 36, 40 inches from the work area just because of the energy within the system when it's moving and the time it takes to stop it. So now you look at an operator who is loading a machine less than once a minute, who is walking 40 inches in, 40 inches out, to unload a machine and the same thing to load it. You're putting a lot of miles on in a day just to operate that piece of equipment...You've got to change all of that so that you come up with a method that is efficient, doesn't create other ergo issues with the operator, and reduces your costs for implementation."
"Safe design is a far, far, far, far superior strategy," agrees Brough. "Where safe design doesn't work, then you look at safeguarding technology."
"The safe design system would work with newer equipment," says Osmond. "But there's still a lot of old equipment out there that needs to be retrofitted, and engineering out the process is sometimes not as easy as applying the secondary measure in our hierarchy of safeguarding, which is applying safeguarding systems."
"With the newer technologies that are coming out, I think there are a lot more elegant solutions available to machine builders and end users for retrofits, and I think that we'll continue to make safer machines for operators," says Wallace.
8. Build a culture of safety.
"A good percentage of machine guarding cases are...tampering and defeating machine guarding systems that, if they were in place, would have prevented the accident," explains Conlin. "It's not a failure necessarily of guarding, but a failure of supervision. If you have people tampering with guards and your supervision isn't doing anything about it, you're grossly contravening health and safety legislation, and there's a bigger problem with your system than just the physical machine guards. The supervision has to go hand in hand. There's got to be a culture that guards can't be tampered with, and the second that's tolerated, the second you are in complete non-compliance, in my view.
"I think that organizations really need to look at safety starting from the top in terms of a safety culture," adds Conlin. "If you build a culture of safety in your organization, my perspective is the rest will take care of itself."
9. Measure the effectiveness of your safety strategy.
"I'd say that one of the biggest things you need to take a look at is the difference between what's on paper and what's in reality," explains Conlin. "If you have a system in your safety manual that says your machines will be audited for guarding risks or other safety risks on an annual basis, and then a Ministry of Labour inspector asks, 'Well have you done them? Well, I don't have any records whatsoever of that, it's never actually been done.' That's the number one thing. Is your program that you have written down, does it conform with reality?...And I can't tell you how many court decisions there are out there that say, 'Well the safety system on the ground is not the safety system in the book.' And so the employer's due diligence defence fails."
10. Be educated.
Loftus, whose company was the recent recipient of a Canada's Safest Employer Award, says that the key to safeguarding success is education. "The bottom line is that our employees understand the whole process. They're educated in the process because it's part of what we do, and then they apply it to our own manufacturing."
Brough agrees. "I think probably the common thread here is education - for the plant, for the user," he says. "Knowing about the latest technology; knowing about the latest legal requirements. Education is the biggest thing."
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2011 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.
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