Machine Safety: 'Acceptable' versus 'tolerable' risk

In a recent Machine Safety blog posting on www.controleng.com, blogger J.B. Titus said: “To understand machine safety, you have to understand the concepts of 'acceptable' versus 'tolerable' risk. “First, 'tolerable risk' is the term used for the past several years referring to a level of residual risk for a given hazard after applying risk reduction measures.

11/01/2009


In a recent Machine Safety blog posting on www.controleng.com , blogger J.B. Titus said: “To understand machine safety, you have to understand the concepts of 'acceptable' versus 'tolerable' risk.

“First, 'tolerable risk' is the term used for the past several years referring to a level of residual risk for a given hazard after applying risk reduction measures. ANSI B11.1- 2009, Safety Requirements for Mechanical Power Presses, defines tolerable risk in clause 3.90.1 'Risk that is accepted for a given task (hazardous situation) or hazard.' In my opinion, a more current term has come to life replacing tolerable risk as more focus continues to be directed at integrating the safety mindset into all phases of a machine life cycle.

“'Acceptable risk' is the new term that is beginning to appear in many updated standards. The assumption is that risk can never truly be totally eliminated from a hazard but that every risk should be evaluated for risk reductions measures and mitigated to the smallest amount possible. Therefore, these updated standards are defining acceptable risk as the level at which further risk reduction will not result in significant reduction in risk or that additional expenditure of resources will not result in significant advances towards increased safety.

“So, how much does this discussion matter? Isn't the whole bottom line of the required risk analysis process really about consciously identifying hazards and reducing their risk of occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities?”

Share your thoughts on the Machine Safety blog at tinyurl.com/yj8s98f .





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