Maintenance must take lead in machine guarding checks

In a letter to the editor, Chris Mumford from ManagerPlus argues that establishing a thorough preventive maintenance checklist is vital to improve safety.

11/18/2013


At first glance, OSHA’s list of the Top 10 most common citations for 2013 seems to convey good news for machine guarding violations: they have dropped four spots from sixth to 10th compared to last year. Deeper analysis, however, reveals that this drop in rank masks the fact that machine guarding infractions have actually increased by 28 percent over the past year.

The drop in rank is actually just a case of bad news hidden among worse—there were approximately 56% more citations overall in 2013 compared to 2012 among the top ten categories.

So what accounts for the rise? Regulations and the governmental agencies responsible for enforcing them tend to be in constant flux. The recent shutdown of the U.S. Federal Government, for example, forced OSHA to furlough 90% of its inspectors and created a sizeable backlog of un-enforced cases.

But the nature of machine guarding regulations suggests that something else may be at work. Guards, electronic shutoffs, and other measures are put in place to protect workers from hazards “created by point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks,” according to OSHA’s official regulations. 

So companies must either be failing to fit new equipment with the proper safety devices, or neglecting maintenance on safeguards that are already in place. Identifying the cause of these violations is no small matter, as these incidents are considered particularly serious and carry some of the OSHA’s heftiest fines.

A manufacturing firm in Fort Worth Texas was slapped with 17 violations amounting to $88,000 in fines—13 of which stemmed from safety infractions like failing to equip a lathe with a foot guarding device. In another case, unguarded winding machines caused four employees to fracture their arms at a plastics manufacturing plant, resulting in $81,000 worth of fines for the company responsible.    

Given the regulatory burden already facing manufacturers, it’s not necessarily hard to imagine why machine guarding tends to be overlooked: once safeguards are in place, the focus shifts toward other, more pressing needs. Companies may even consider efforts beyond the initial installation of machine guards to be a waste of resources.  

This mentality will have to change, however, if companies hope to reverse the upward trend in these violations and avoid the fines and legal headaches associated with them. Establishing a thorough preventive maintenance checklist is a critical first step.

Implementing checks of machine guards into a preventive maintenance routine is the best way to ensure that they do not slip through the cracks. Having the maintenance staff check machine guards while performing related inspections or fixes is an efficient way to make ensure that they get done without expending excess resources.

Tracking these checks in a solid book of record provides an additional layer of protection for companies, enabling them to readily prove due diligence if needed.

Regardless of the solutions companies use to address the issue, deploying them in an organized, efficient manner is the best way to prevent them from falling by the wayside in the future.    



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Hannover Messe 2016: Taking hold of the future - Partner Country status spotlights U.S. manufacturing; Honoring manufacturing excellence: The 2015 Product of the Year Winners
Inside IIoT: How technology, strategy can improve your operation; Dry media or web scrubber?; Six steps to design a PM program
World-class manufacturing: A recipe for success: Finding the right mix for a salad dressing line; 2015 Salary Survey: Manufacturing slump dims enthusiasm
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Warehouse winter comfort: The HTHV solution; Cooling with natural gas; Plastics industry booming
Managing automation upgrades, retrofits; Making technical, business sense; Ensuring network cyber security
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
click me