Machine Safety: Is upgrading to solid state enough?

Moving machine guarding solutions to solid-state-based components from hard-wired components has been a persistent U.S. discussion since 2002. Are solid-state components enough to provide effective machine safety and personnel safety?


The overwhelming discussion since 2002 in the U.S. has been about moving machine guarding solutions to solid state based components from hard wired components. To provide effective machine safety and personnel safety – is this enough?


It’s been my observation since 2002 that the majority of all the chatter in industry has been focused around promotional campaigns for firmware and software based safety certified products for machine guarding. True, the door opened in the U.S. in 2002 for these products based on the 2002 change in NFPA 79 removing the requirement for all machine guarding devices to be hard wired. This standard also added the requirement that safety rated software and firmware based products used in safety-related functions shall be listed for such use. Naturally these changes fueled the supply channel and listing organizations for these products to launch major go-to-market selling and marketing campaigns. Yet, industry is still required to provide effective machine safety and personnel safety as required by OSHA and the industry standards. Therefore, is migrating your machine safety strategy to solid state enough?


In my opinion, and most industry experts in the field, the answer would be definitely not.


I’ve got a few reasons as to why migrating to solid state is not enough. And, I’ll bet that you can add several more. To begin with, isn’t upgrading your machine guarding to solid state simply one step any company should consider? Isn’t there a larger question that the supply channel typically doesn’t address in their promotional campaigns, i.e.:

1.    Is your safety culture best-in-class?

2.    Does your line and staff cadre openly accept and encourage change?

3.    Do you have an effective preventative maintenance program in place?

4.    Do your production & maintenance employees feel engaged?

5.    Do your employees take ownership for your machine safety culture?


Remember the real organizational gotcha – “we haven’t had an accident for a long time, so we’re safe”?


So, what’s your opinion? Is migrating your machine safety strategy to solid state enough?


Your comments or suggestion are always welcome so please let us know your thoughts. Submit your ideas, experiences, and challenges on this subject in the comments section below.


J.B. Titus, CFSERelated articles:

Machine Guarding & The Hierarchy of Measures for Hazard Mitigation

Machine Safety: Is OSHA okay with my 'acceptable' risk mitigation?

Machine safety: A social responsibility or KPI?

Machine Safety: the myths of safety cultures.

Machine Safety: Updating Minds About Machine Safety


Contact: for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.

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