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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Risk assessment - A best practice for sustainable performance

Generally speaking, industry has awakened to the term, risk assessment. Yet, many companies dealing with machine safety seem to still be wrestling with issues like; when, why, if, and how often in actually implementing robust programs.

June 27, 2011


aJB Titus, CFSEGenerally speaking, industry has awakened to the term – Risk Assessment. Yet, many companies dealing with machine safety seem to still be wrestling with issues like; when, why, if, and how often in actually implementing robust programs. Suppliers wanting to help have geared education and consulting based activities to address these issues and to actually complete machine risk assessments for manufacturers. On the other hand, a few companies have actually implemented the risk assessment process into their safety culture and it’s become a “best practice”.

     To make this transition, it’s my opinion that companies need to openly understand and address a host of critical related terms. Examples of these terms include:

  • Hazard – a potential source of damage or harm
  • Risk – the probability that damage or injury will occur
  • Acceptable risk – a level of (reduced) risk which has a likelihood and severity of injury or damage that’s deemed as low as reasonably achievable
  • Residual risk – that risk which remains after all risk reduction measures have been applied

      And, one of the biggest stumbling blocks I’ve experienced is getting companies to acknowledge the concept of residual risk and that residual risk will never equal zero.

      With that said, it seems that the most successful companies to achieve implementing the risk assessment process as a best practice have done so because they’ve integrated risk reduction methodologies into their work systems and processes. This is a proactive approach to designing in safety and mitigation techniques as a continuous improvement process which consistently reduces residual risk over time. In my opinion, reducing residual risk over time can lead to sustainable safety performance improvements. Thus – risk assessment becomes a best practice for sustainable performance.  

     Let’s hear your ideas? What does it take for companies to establish safety as a sustainable performance? How can companies create and/or modify a proactive safety culture?

      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: Risk Assessment – A Best Practice For Sustainable Performance

     Did you see the Safety Integration Webcast?

Related articles:

Residual Risk Is Alive & Ever Present In Machine Safety

Risk Assessment Documentation & the new European Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC

Machine Safety & Residual Risk

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.