Essential Machine Safety Steps and Resources

Different machines require different types and degrees of safety, but there are some common steps and resources that experienced builders say they use to find and implement the most appropriate safety solution for their devices, production lines and facilities. Many will be featured in the "Essential Safety" cover article in the May 2012 issue of Control Design. Collectively, their basic procedures for developing and implementing machine safety include:

  1. Draft a dedicated group of engineers, technicians, operators and managers to evaluate safety status of your machines and production lines.
  2. Research safety standards, regulations, recommendations and user requirements that apply to your machines and related equipment and manufacturing functions.
  3. Review and update safety evaluation and risk-assessment (RA) process used during machine design, construction, maintenance, retrofitting and decommissioning.
  4. Conduct thorough RA to find hazards, and measure their severity and frequency,  
  5. Mitigate impact of hazards by removing them from design, installing guards, and warning and continually training staff.
  6. Recheck that all planned risk reductions have been performed, and thoroughly document these steps for future reference.
  7. Enlist help and training from suppliers, and make sure their controls and components meet application safety standards, too.
  8. Revise RAs and safety functions when new operating abilities are added to machines, or when age alters their capabilities.  

In addition, here are a few of the main standards, government and trade organizations that develop and support machine safety: