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Machine Safety: Five Common Questions Answered

March 20, 2018 | Best Practices | Automation

machine safety

A strong safety culture can improve safety, morale, and productivity

When walking up to a machine, operators should be confident that the machine they’re working on is safe. Relying on someone to take a specific action to improve safety can be risky. As much as possible, machines should be inherently safe.

Here, we’re answering five of the most common questions we receive about machine safety.

1. Which safety standards should I follow?

The short answer: It depends on a couple main things. What type of machine you are working with and also where the machine will be put into production, meaning in the United States or International. ISO 13849 offers information on safety requirements and design and integration principles for the safety-related parts of control systems. Certain ANSI standards also apply to specific types of machinery (robotics or press brakes, for example).

2. What is a risk assessment – and why do I need one?

Conducting a team-based risk assessment is the smartest thing you can do to start your machine safety program. Assessments can identify machine hazards and associated risk reductions. They can also identify potential cost savings: Perhaps you’re spending money on protective hardware you don’t need.

3. How can I reduce risk when it comes to machine safety?

To improve machine safety, designing the opportunity for risk out of the machine as much as possible is important – ensuring that the machine has been designed to minimize danger. One of the methods of risk reduction is to integrate safety sensing devices (such as light curtains or safety mats) that stop hazardous motion based on presence or a certain operator action.

4. Who should ultimately be responsible for machine safety?

We recommend bringing safety, engineering, and maintenance personnel all into the fold when discussing machine safety. By getting everyone on the same page from the very start, you can streamline machine safety planning and ensure that everyone understands the importance of machine safety (and associated risks).

5. How do I know if my machine is safe?

Once the hazards residual risk is reduced to an acceptable level then your machine is deemed safe. Hazards typically still exist after risk reduction and safeguarding, however, they have all been reduced to an acceptable level as determined by the risk assessment process and risk assessment team.

Getting Started with Machine Safety

Van Meter can help your plant develop a strong safety culture. With certified engineers and technicians on staff, we can answer your questions about machine safety, provide training, walk you through your options, and map out a step-by-step plan to improve machine safety.

Remember: When designed correctly, safety should make your machine easier to use – not hinder the machine operator.

functional safety engineer ARTICLE BY:

PAT ROCKEY
EMPLOYEE-OWNER, AUTOMATION PRODUCT MANAGER, FUNCTIONAL SAFETY ENGINEER
(FS Expert (TÜV Rheinland, #291/18, Machinery)

Rockey has over 28 years in the industry, with 13 spent as an employee of Van Meter

 

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