For machine safety, do we have to be aware of all safety standards?
Machine safety has more safety standards than you can imagine looking across all industries here in the U.S. On top of that add the growing presence of International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and International Standards Organization (ISO) – and the picture seems to grow three dimensionally. How many and which of these standards does any one company need to be aware of to build their manufacturing business? This is a question I get asked at almost every safety seminar, web cast, or tradeshow.
My advice is to first look under the hood. Realize that some standards are very specific to a single machine or type of machine like ANSI B11.1 for a Mechanical Stamping Press. Other standards address various machines in a specific industry like S2 for the Semiconductor Industry. Then there are standards that are very general in nature that apply to all machines in all industries like ANSI B11.0 or ISO 12100 for general principles of design and risk assessment. A pyramid design as used in Europe can best describe these relationships following the A, B, and C levels as shown in the diagram.
As you begin to peel the onion you can quickly understand that you don’t need to know all of the machine safety standards for your particular business. What I believe you should do is review and choose those standards that best represent your industry and your types of machines and applications. Quite often that can be roughly four to six Type A, B, and C standards. But don’t just stop there. Also document your evaluation and why you chose certain standards as a best practice. Record your evaluation and implementation processes for your business. Good documentation can become your best friend at difficult times.
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