Machine Safety: Are you staying on target?

Is changing my machine safety strategy necessary? What if your safety target has shifted? Have there been evolutional changes to industrial safety but your safety culture is mired in the past? Are there newer machine guarding solutions that are more cost effective? To stay on target consider updates to your safety culture and your machine guarding solutions practice.


Is changing my machine safety strategy necessary? What if your safety target has shifted? Have there been evolutional changes to industrial safety but your safety culture is mired in the past? Are there newer machine guarding solutions that are more cost effective? To stay on target consider updates to your safety culture and your machine guarding solutions practice. 

Hitting the safety target

In my opinion, when a director of safety realizes that safety policy is a little off target, she or he can (and probably should) take immediate action to fully assess the issues and the opportunities. 

When assessing the issues most directors of safety today are well attuned to the practice of mandatory risk assessments for all machinery. Let’s take that as a given. Having said that, what’s not, in my opinion, uniformly practiced is the director of safety taking time to  assess issues in the company's safety culture. My experience has shown me time and again that a best-in-class machine safety program is directly proportional to a best-in-class safety culture. Supporting this position I suggest first reviewing a recent study conducted by the Aberdeen Group comparing common traits of best-in-class companies and secondly the many writings of Steven I. Simon, PhD and his “Simon Open System Model.” These tools are great aids in helping a director of safety to assess the issues in an existing safety culture.

Opportunities are a different story. My expertise is entirely focused at Machine Safety.  Therefore, I will take the privilege of addressing the advantage of linking safety automation with improving operator safety and business performance. I have blogged many times about the recent developments of advanced safety technologies and their detailed application procedures via updated industry standards. I’ve also blogged about the convergence (harmonization) of global IEC and ISO standards in conjunction with domestic standards. The most recent example being ISO 13849-1:2006 & 2008 as of 1/1/2012 becoming required for compliance to the Machinery Directive in Europe and normatively (required) in several of our domestic standards. All of this points to the dramatic business opportunities for many manufacturers of adjusting their safety policy to accept these newer cost effective approaches to operator safety and improved business performance. Opportunities to reduce unplanned machine downtime while maintaining or improving operator safety and getting attractive returns on investment are not frequent events in industry. Large and small companies have realized these results over the past ten years and trends now show broad adoption evolving. 

So, is changing your machine safety strategy necessary? The first answer might be - NO! However, if your safety target has shifted you might need to assess the issues and opportunities and adjust your coordinates to stay on target. Additionally, you may also develop a competitive advantage for your business. 

J.B. Titus, certified functional safety expert and Control Engineering Machine Safety bloggerYour comments or suggestion are always welcome so please let us know your thoughts. Submit your ideas, experiences, and challenges on this subject in the comments section below. Click on the following text if you don't see a comments box, then scroll down: Machine Safety: Are you staying on target?

Related articles:

Updating Minds About Machine Safety

Simon Open System Model”, Steven I. Simon, PhD

Integrated Safety Systems: Ensuring Safety and Operational Productivity, Aberdeen Group

Machine Safety – the myths of safety cultures.

Contact: for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.

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