For centuries machines have been operated unsafely in an unregulated market. It was not until that in 1970, just 50 years ago, OSHA was formed as a reaction to the public outcry of industrial accidents. Originally called “the safety bill of rights”, it was a regulation created to improve workplace safety for employees. Unfortunately, companies do not follow these regulations, which result in accidents continuing to happen daily. These are the same companies that commonly preach Safety 1st.
Cost avoidance is defined by any action taken in the present that prevents incurring greater costs in the future. For example, routinely investing in machine safety to remain in compliance with safety regulations is a form of cost avoidance. Unlike immediate cost savings, cost avoidance measures are not reflected in financial statements or annual budgets. They are nevertheless important to a company's profitability. When cost avoidance is not exercised, companies can face several potentially catastrophic expenses.
Building the right safety team can be challenging because it takes people with great core values, knowledge of the regulations and standards, critical thinking skills, common sense, and an open mind. Safety is measured by statistics, but just because people aren’t getting hurt doesn’t mean the facility is safe.
Industrial automated machines are typically designed and built to solve a problem related to improving quality, streamlining processes, or minimizing scrap rates. In any machine design, safety needs to be part of the equation and not left up to chance forcing the customer to accept the shifted responsibility of safety.
One of the most common phrases is “safety is everyone’s responsibility”. This certainly is true, but safety needs to start with machine guarding. Just like anything else, people need to be set up for success by providing them with the proper tools. People want to do the right thing, they want to be safe, they want others to be safe, but they don’t know what they don’t know.
Companies have a huge responsibility to make sure their employees are safe in the workplace. Safety and Maintenance professionals across America are plagued with the decisions between do I fixate on price or realize the value in “the solution”. Product companies can make a compelling argument, but companies can often get caught in the trap of being sold the wrong thing due to lack of info.
Overcoming workplace safety attitudes must start with understanding of why the attitude exists at all. Workplace safety attitudes refers to how employees react to safety goals, policies & procedures, or new ideas & plans for accident prevention. The flip from positive to negative can happen in an instant due to the emotional connection workers typically have with their jobs and the ownership they take with their machines. This is influenced by adversity they’re faced with, incentive programs offered, and how empowered they feel. Negative employees can increase turnover rates reducing safety, creating hostile work environments, deteriorating quality, and a decline in the bottom line. It is imperative the workers stay positive to help ensure an accident free workplace, which helps improve productivity, enhance quality, and reduce costs due to refined process efficiencies creating a more profitable company.
Machine guarding is a safety feature consisting of barriers or electronic devices used to bridge the gap between centuries of machines and the hazardous conditions they present to workers. Machines have traditionally been built for the purpose of producing, assembling, or packaging a product. Safety was either an afterthought or minimal focus by protecting against only the “highest” risk. Over the years, these machines have been modified for faster production rates or ease of routine maintenance by minimizing or removing the machine guards. This has created unsafe conditions for workers presenting such hazards as crush points, pinch points, shear points, and thrown objects resulting in injury or death.
Robotic automation for industrial applications is rapidly growing due to the reliability of programmed robots, as well as the low overhead costs compared to traditional manufacturing processes. Some of the common robots used in the manufacturing processes are Cartesian, cylindrical, and spherical robots. Robots are reliable and consistent, but failures can occur such as loss of air pressure, power failures, or glitches in the controls. A controlled environment should be developed to minimize the “human-factor” decision making due to the inherent trust between robot and human.
Several technologies ensure that automated machines meet ANSI, ISO, ISA and OSHA safety standards
Keeping workers safe is a daily challenge for every manufacturer, particularly those that operate one or more automated assembly lines. To achieve this goal, many companies make sure their machines are equipped with sensor-based safety components that meet ANSI, ISO, ISA and OSHA standards. These include light curtains, laser scanners, and safety controllers, encoders and interlock switches.
This whitepaper is published to educate industrial facilities on perimeter guarding and how it can improve workplace safety.