Don't overlook key steps in the safety process

Having a clear plan with executive management and safeguarding yourself against potential hazards for both the short- and long-term is vital

11/10/2012


What am I missing in my safety program?

If you think about it too hard, it’s one of those questions that can keep you awake at night. What am I missing in my safety program? Many companies would answer this question by looking at their machines and making sure that all the safeguards are in place. The answer, however, isn’t in the factory—it’s most likely in the corporate offices.

But where does it start? Safety starts at the top and filters down. In a successful program, everyone’s involved. In the most successful companies, safety is a separate item on the agenda for meetings of the board of directors. It’s that important.

First and foremost it’s important to have a clear plan with buy-in from executive management to assess all hazards and a commitment to safeguard (reduce the risk) for each hazard per the plan. This can and should be a long-term plan with milestones and budgets agreed to by the “top brass.” It should have approval for the necessary funding. Without these simple steps, you end up with an environmental health and safety (EH&S) person at the corporate level who is frustrated because he cannot get done what he knows needs to be done.

After management buy-in, from the perspective of the EH&S professional, the following often-overlooked information and processes need to be understood and implemented for a complete and lasting solution: 

  • Risk assessment process—always the beginning of the solution for a safe factory
  • Understanding of the hierarchy of controls (engineered solutions vs. administrative solutions)
  • Understanding of safety circuit design (including practicality, cost, etc.)
  • Identification and application of pertinent regulations (OSHA), standards (ANSI, NFPA, etc.), or directives (machinery directive, plant/corporate standards, etc.)
  • Determination of an internal acceptance of “acceptable (tolerable) risk” (including the difference between being “compliant” and being “safe”)
  • Stakeholder (operations, production, maintenance, etc.) feedback and buy-in for all remediation plans
  • Qualified remediation experts (either in-house or third-party)
  • Understanding of cost vs. value (cheaper usually isn't better)
  • Complete lifecycle review process (Plan, Do, Check, Adjust)
  • Administrative controls (training, documentation, supervision, maintenance, etc.) to maintain safeguarding solutions and practices.  

Whether you tackle these steps with internal resources or hire outside experts to handle your machine safeguarding, if you understand these points—and get executive support and buy-in—you are well on your way to a safer, more efficient factory. 

John Peabody is vice president of business development for Omron Automation and Safety, Fremont, Calif. www.sti.com.



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Salary and career survey: Benchmarks and advice; Designing controls; Remote data collection, historians; Control valve advances; Hannover Messe; Control Engineering International
System integration: Best practices and technologies to help; Virtualization virtues; Cyber security advice; Motor system efficiency, savings; Product exclusives; Road to Hannover
Collaborative robotics: How to improve safety, return on investment; Industrial Internet of Things, Industrie 4.0: World views; High-performance HMI, Information Integration: OPC and OMG
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
PLCs, robots, and the quest for a single controller; how OEE is key to automation solutions.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
click me