Machine safety is governed by various regulatory agencies and companies are expected to make every effort to be in compliance with the safety standards that apply to their industry. Therefore planning a "Machine Safety Strategy" must be regarded as a major concern for all industrial manufacturing companies. "Risk Assessment" is the primary element of any Machine Safety Strategy and is a process made-up of several steps.
Documentation must be completed during every step of your Risk Assessment process. It is necessary to consider all stages in the life cycle of each machine including installation, commissioning, standard maintenance, troubleshooting, correct use operation and decommissioning. In addition, the consequences of foreseeable misuse or malfunction must be considered. Some hazards to look for include crushing, entanglement, shearing, part ejection, radiation, fumes, toxic substances, noise levels and extreme heat.
Risk Assessment is based on a clear understanding of each machines limits and functions, as well as all tasks the machine is required to perform, which in combination must be analyzed to identify hazards. The degree of risk attributed to each hazard is then estimated in order to provide a foundation for final safeguarding selection at a later stage. A validation will then be necessary to determine if the applied safety measures are sufficient or if additional measures are needed to reduce the risk. Risk Reduction is achieved when safety measures selected according to the information derived from the Risk Assessment process has brought risk to an acceptable level.
The initial steps of the Risk Assessment process are "Machine Limit Determination" and "Hazard Identification". This consists of making a complete list of all hazards produced by the machine. Where separate machines are linked together, either mechanically or by control systems, they should be listed as a single machine. Next include all possible operations and usage for each machine. Then based on the concept of "AUTO" - Around - Under - Through - Over, each machine on the list is studied by looking at the equipment from all angles to establish any type of hazards that exist and the list is noted accordingly.
The next step in your Machine Safety Strategy is "Risk Estimation". All manufacturing machines contain hazards that represent varying degrees of risk. It is necessary to be able to describe at what level each risk lies on a minimum to maximum scale. When conducting Risk Estimation you must consider the severity of potential injury, the frequency of exposure to the hazard and the possibility of avoiding the hazard.
A "Validation" is required to determine if the existing safety measures are satisfactory or if additional measures are necessary to reduce the risk. "Risk Reduction" is then performed and the necessary safety measures are selected based on the information documented from the prior steps of the Risk Assessment process.