Life cycle safety engineering

Because global and competitive issues are driving more companies to evaluate the life cycle cost of equipment ownership, life cycle safety engineering becomes an important aspect of the cost of ownership.


Machine safety has been a big concern for a long time here in the U.S.  OK – some would argue that it’s only been a real concern since the early 1970’s with the commissioning of OSHA. During the first 20 to 30 years that followed the birth of OSHA very little in comparison was invested in safety solutions which were regulated to hardwire technology. However, during the last 10 to 15 years there’s been significant investment in safety automation solutions because hard wiring safety is no longer exclusively required. Although the control elements comprise a rather large chunk of overall machine safety – there’s a lot more to consider. Global and competitive issues are driving more companies these days to consider evaluating the life cycle cost of ownership when evaluating capital equipment investments. Therefore, life cycle safety engineering becomes an important aspect of the cost of ownership.


 The term “life cycle safety” refers to all safety factors that could and should be taken into consideration for the life of a piece of equipment. These safety considerations begin at the concept stage of a project and continue through to the de-commissioning stage of the machine. Some of the topics to consider include:

  • Understanding all relevant and current codes and regulations
  • Site modifications and construction
  • Grounding and power provisions including arc flash
  • Mechanical designs to minimize hazard points
  • Electrical and controls designs to mitigate hazards
  • Component selections for life cycle and disposal considerations
  • Material and liquid selections for life cycle and disposal considerations
  • Risk assessments for all modes of operation and maintenance
  • Lockout & tagout procedures and requirements
  • Risk assessments for material handling
  • Operator and maintenance safety
  • Comprehensive training for all personnel for the life cycle
  • De-commissioning procedures and discharging all sources of power
  • Disposal concerns and regulations particularly for hazardous materials
  • Etc.

In my opinion, codes and regulations help provide for the protection of personnel and equipment but unforeseen accidents dramatically impact the cost of ownership and productivity for machinery. More importantly, it’s the design engineer’s understanding and application of life cycle safety considerations that will lead to a safe and productive machine installation.


  1. The risk assessment process continues for the machine life cycle; and
  2. Residual risk will never equal zero.

Please add a comment using the tool below to help bring this level of engagement to the forefront on industry.


- Read a related post: Machine Safety and “reasonably foreseeable misuse” about risk analysis.

- See prior post: Cableless (Wireless) Operator Panel Applications.

- Reference the Control Engineering article: Part 1: What is OSHA's Stance on New Safety Standards?

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