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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Machine Safety: Safe enough versus compliance, 8 compliance best practices

How does “safe enough” compare to “compliance”? It doesn't. Not having accidents for a period of time doesn't mean there isn't risk. See these eight machine safety compliance best practices.

December 12, 2013


With machine safety, how does “safe enough” compare to “compliance”? There's no comparison. The explanation is clearly provided by Bill Hilton, director of health and safety at Georgia-Pacific: “A historical lack of accidents does not imply a current presence of safety. It simply means you’ve been faster than the machine.”

Effectively integrate the pieces to your safety solutions.

Generally the term “safe enough” means: there’s been no risk assessment, no formal hazard mitigation, no thorough safety function evaluation, and probably no effective engineering of a proper safety solution. If this approach isn’t bad enough, don’t count on it to be well documented either.

Eight best practices follow that might help you better achieve “compliance” versus that downward spiral associated with “safe enough.”On the other hand, to be in “compliance” for a given hazard generally means: a current risk assessment is on file, the hazard mitigation process is formalized, there has been a formal safety function evaluation, and the safety solution was effectively engineered. Therefore, all the organizational puzzle pieces are effectively integrated.

1. Have all risks and hazards actually been identified?

2. Do you have copies of all appropriate safety standards?

3. How thoroughly are the identified risk levels defined and scored?

4. How effectively are the identified hazards mitigated?

5. Have you met or exceeded all OSHA regulations and requirements?

6. Have you met or exceeded your company’s safety policy requirements?

7. Is your process effectively documented?

8. Does your safety culture celebrate safety success stories?

Do you have some best practices you could share which elevate your machine safety program to be in compliance?

Do I have them all? would you add a ninth? Do you have some specific topic or interest that we could cover in future blog posts? Add your comments or thoughts to the discussion by submitting your ideas, experiences, and challenges in the comments section below.

Related articles:

Machine Safety – functional safety & the steps to be compliant in the US.

Updating Minds About Machine Safety

Integrated Safety Systems: Ensuring Safety and Operational Productivity, Aberdeen Group

Machine Safety – the myths of safety cultures.

OSHA – search for near miss

Contact: http://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.