Machine Safety: 5 measures for making machine safety stick

Do you see continuous improvement in machine safety or backsliding? Use these five measures to emphasize and improve machine safety.


Are your operational improvements in machine safety only temporary? After countless investments in technology, procedures, training, and methodologies, do you see continuous improvements or backsliding?

Organizations need environments where performance improvement investments can systemically drive returns and advances in profitability. Temporary upticks followed by backsliding returns are all too typical. In my experience, the only way to get real ROI (return on investment) from operational improvement investments is to make them stick and enable continuous improvement.

Here are five ideas for ways to make operational improvements in machine safety stick:

1. Make real improvements.

Your employees are often the best resources for solid ideas involving performance and machine safety improvements. Instead of quick wins, look for meaningful wins that can drive solid measurable results tied directly to the team.

2. Announce the projects benefits and results.

Communicate, translate, and post the project benefits and results in employee areas in their terms for maximum understanding of their contribution. Balance sheets, return on assets (ROA), and turns are examples of terms generally not well understood. On the other hand, bar charts, pie charts, trend lines, hours for rework, injuries, days off work, and similar terms typically are more understood. Show comparisons to last week or month as well as to other divisions or competitors. Dashboards are a recent tool that can deliver the kind of engagement needed. Employee buy-in is the ultimate goal.

3. Celebrate every success.

Every success should be celebrated regardless of size or type of results. Don’t wait for the usual month, quarter, or year end. Tie celebrations to an organization and individuals to reinforce loyalty and enthusiasm and provide individual recognition. Also, stimulate competition.

4. Make “going back” painful. 

Sometimes organizations or individuals feel that the old way took less time or that it was easier even though it may not have been safer. Once the new solutions, tools, and automation are proven, ensure that the previous tooling, procedures, guarding, automation, methodologies, etc., are eliminated. Part of ensuring that employees know that management supports the operational improvements is to make it obvious that the old way is no longer approved or available.

5. Articulate, train, and enforce organizational disciplines. 

Training on work rules, new procedures and organizational and employee discipline require enforcement by management and must be clearly articulated to all staff. Management's failure to perform this measure can almost guarantee backsliding.

In my opinion, operational investments in machine safety can be expensive, but related ROI also can become a competitive advantage if the right mix of measures make the operational improvements stick.

Has this presented you with any new perspectives? Do you have some specific topic or interest that we could cover in future blog posts? Add your comments or thoughts to the discussion by submitting your ideas, experiences, and challenges in the comments section below.

Related articles:

ASSE - Professional Safety Journal- Near-Miss Reporting, May 2013

OSHA – search for near miss

Contact:  for “Solutions for Machine Safety”. See links below.

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