Machine Safety

An ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis, operating efficiencies and cost savings, as well as all relevant safety standards, such as those from NFPA, ANSI, RIA, IEC, ISO and OSHA. About J.B. Titus.

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I don’t have to upgrade my machine safety to the latest technology

I’ll bet nearly everyone reading this blog has heard someone say, “I don’t have to upgrade my machine safety to the latest technology.” Right? And, the next comment might be something like, “My shop is safe because we haven’t had an accident for umpteen years.” Are these folks wrong? Here are 5 questions to ask about machine safety.

August 10, 2011


JB Titus, CFSEI’ll bet nearly everyone reading this blog has heard someone say, “I don’t have to upgrade my machine safety to the latest technology.” Right? And, the next comment might be something like, “My shop is safe because we haven’t had an accident for umpteen years.” Are these folks wrong? (See below, the 5 most important questions to ask when confronted with these views on machine safety.)

   How many of you think they’re right? Well, in my opinion about half of you are partially right. Why is this possibly true?

   To begin with both OSHA and the consensus standards will say that basic solutions like hard guarding, personnel training, signage, personal protective equipment, etc. are acceptable machine guarding solutions. Neither OSHA or the consensus standards will require industry to adopt and install the latest technology for machine guarding. Then, what’s different today? Who has the answer? OK, I’ll lay one answer out there.

                                    It’s the Risk Assessment!

   Now that a risk assessment is required by all on all machinery every hazard must now be identified and mitigated to an acceptable level. Having said that - there’s still no mandate for industry to change machine guarding solutions to the latest technology. I’ll bet right now there’s a lot of chatter going on out there about the pros and cons of what’s just been said. Why don’t you offer some of those opinions in the space provided below?

   Let’s look at the second thought for a moment – My shop is safe because we haven’t had an accident for umpteen years! How many of you think these folks are right? I hope most of you disagree with this opinion. It may be a correct fact that a company may not have had an accident for umpteen years. But, this fact alone in no way substantiates that their shop is safe. Again, what is it that these folks don’t see or understand?

   In my opinion, you need to ask several more questions to answer this question. I’ll suggest just a few.

1.    Does this company have an effective safety culture?

2.    Does this company have an effective and accountable safety program?

3.    Do machine operators feel free to stop the machine over safety issues?

4.    Does top management take a proactive role in machine safety oversight?

5.    Have updated current risk assessments been completed for all machinery?

   This is just the tip of the iceberg. As you know, there’s a lot more to this equation. However, the point is that if you can answer yes to all these questions then it’s only possible to say that your shop has had an accident free track record but not necessarily because the shop is safe. In forty five plus years I haven’t seen a safe shop yet.

   So, does any company have to upgrade to the latest technology for machine guarding? I would offer that there is no mandate. However, I do see many companies choosing to upgrade to the latest machine safety guarding because the solutions today offer potential significant cost avoidance and/or cost savings opportunities. In today’s competitive cost conscience environment – how could any company not consider the opportunities offered from some of these recent innovative machine safety solutions?

   What opinions, questions, or experiences can you add to this discussion?

   Your comments or suggestion are always welcome so please let us know your thoughts. Submit your ideas, experiences, and challenges on this subject in the comments section below. Click on the following text if you don't see a comments box, then scroll down: I Don’t Have To Upgrade My Machine Safety To The Latest Technology.

   Did you see the Safety Integration Webcast?

   Related articles:

We’re safe; we’ve had no machine safety accidents for a long time

Risk assessment - A best practice for sustainable performance

Designing In Machine Guarding

Machine safety pays off

Contact: www.jbtitus.com for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.



For more than 30 years, J.B. Titus has advised a wide range of clients on machine functional safety solutions, including Johnson + Johnson, Siemens, General Motors, Disney, Rockwell Automation, Bridgestone Firestone, and Samsung Heavy Industries. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Oklahoma University in industrial management and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University in marketing and finance. He is a professional member of the American Society of Safety Engineers and is OSHA-certified in machine guarding. Titus is also TUV-certified as a Functional Safety Expert and serves on several American National Standards Institute, National Fire Protection Association, and National Electrical Manufacturers Association national safety and health standards committees. Reach him at jb(at)jbtitus.com and via www.jbtitus.com.