Machine Safety - Am I Responsible?

Case examples cross my desk almost weekly asking, “am I responsible” or liable for for machine safety? These questions come from end users, OEMs, systems integrators, and suppliers. Initially, OSHA provides an answer, but beyond that...

02/11/2011


J.B. TitusAm I responsible for machine safety? How would you answer this question?

     In the U.S. we have to initially answer this question from the regulatory (OSHA) perspective. Therefore, we have the OSHA General Care and Duty clause OSHA that requires “each employer shall furnish to each of his employees, employment and a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees”. In addition, consensus standards over the past decade have been consistently adding clarification to end user and supplier responsibilities for machine safety. Additionally, there are scores of local regulations, state regulations, and company policy’s that also influence the regulation side.

     With all of this “clarification," why does the confusion of who’s responsible seem to never go away?

     In my opinion, one reason is the liability side of the equation. Case examples cross my desk almost weekly asking, “am I responsible”? These questions come from end users, OEM’s, systems integrators, and suppliers. The scenarios range from an end user who contracted for an older machine retrofit adding an automated feeder system over eight years ago to another end user who moved a machine to another State where it was re-installed without touching any controls or electrical on the machine.

     The advice in all of these situations begins with and is not limited to:

  • Always check all applicable OSHA regulations, local codes & regulations, international standards,and domestic consensus standards
  • Check all terms and conditions in purchase agreements and contracts
  • Check all company policy’s involved in the project
  • And, this is just the beginning......

     There is no way to thoroughly and properly cover this topic in a short blog because the answer is most often different in every case. However, what is consistent is the simple fact that due diligence will always be the order for the day. There are far too many variables on the liability side for a simple and quick answer. Possibly the clearest example of this involves the discussion over “touching the machine.” Many interpretations of touching the machine means that having done so “you” are obligated to bring the machine to current code. So, by moving a machine are you obligated to bring the control system and machine guarding to compliance with current standards and regulations?

     Does anyone have a very clear answer?

     Does anyone have a definition for “touching the machine”?   

     In my opinion, these factors and many more collectively indicate that machine safety is everyone’s responsibility. What’s your opinion? Leave a comment below.

     DANGER - This energy source has been locked out - proper machine safety methods save life and limb, says the Control Engineering Machine Safety blog.INTEGRATED SAFETY COULD BE YOUR OPPORTUNITY – CONSIDER IT!

     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: Machine Safety – Am I Responsible?

Related articles:  

Machine Safety and Who’s Responsible?

Machine Safety And Your Safety Culture

Updating Minds About Machine Guarding

Contact: www.jbtitus.com for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
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.
Learn how to create value with re-use; gain productivity with lean automation and connectivity, and optimize panel design and construction.
Go deep: Automation tackles offshore oil challenges; Ethernet advice; Wireless robotics; Product exclusives; Digital edition exclusives
Lost in the gray scale? How to get effective HMIs; Best practices: Integrate old and new wireless systems; Smart software, networks; Service provider certifications
Fixing PID: Part 2: Tweaking controller strategy; Machine safety networks; Salary survey and career advice; Smart I/O architecture; Product exclusives
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Look at the basics of industrial wireless technologies, wireless concepts, wireless standards, and wireless best practices with Daniel E. Capano of Diversified Technical Services Inc.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.

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

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.