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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Updating Minds About Machine Safety

September 24, 2010


The Machine Safety segment of industry over the past ten to fifteen years has experienced phenomenal growth of product innovation, solutions for hazard mitigation, and industry regulations, to mention a few. On a global basis anyone can access information and participate in forums in order to understand this evolution of machine guarding solutions.  Independent market study organizations like ARC, VDC, etc. publish information about this “safety automation” segment experiencing double digit growth. When we analyze the market we find that even with this growth trend we’re still in the “early adopter” stage of the “Rogers Innovation Adoption Curve” theory. With that said, we understand that 85% of the market is still waiting – but for what?

Is the market still caught up in “the last forty year legacy” of - this is the way we’ve been implementing machine safety and it works? Or, is it reluctance to change to something new? Possibly it’s a lack of trust, again related to the change issue? I hear some people talk about the slightly higher cost of the new components. But, when they understand that dozens of engineering hours and wiring & checkout are eliminated, they quickly realize the potential for savings. So, what is it – really?

Sometimes I think back to a family I knew in the early 1960’s in New Jersey. The father was the engineering supervisor for a large chemicals company and he and his family lived in a very nice company house beside the plant facilities. This had been the practice for 100 years. Then I think about the 2005 BP plant explosion in Texas City that took 15 employee lives. What if there had still been 50 or 100 company homes right next to that refinery? What might have happened had industry not Updated Their Minds About Safety?

So, I say, when will the 85% of the market update their minds about machine safety and stop living in the 70’s and 80’s with old technology and costly solutions that don’t always work 24/7? As I see it, the wisdom of industry today includes corporate mantras like: reliability, sustainability, flexibility, adaptability, lean & safe, life cycle analysis, asset management, and profitability. Machine safety banners include: risk assessment, functional safety, mean time to fail dangerous, coefficient of diagnostics, and the list goes on!

In my opinion, the paradigm shift for machine safety has arrived and only we are holding its progress back. Let’s move on smartly like the elimination of company housing close to plant facilities. Updating Our Minds About Machine Safety is possible today because better solutions are available.         

Are you a laggard or have I updated your mind?

What other opinions can you add to this discussion? Share your experiences and opinions with your colleagues in the comments section below.

Related articles:

Designing In Machine Guarding    

How To Integrate Safety

Lean and Green Becomes Lean and Safe     

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.