Safety is good business

A sound safety strategy can save money and drive productivity increase, research finds.

By Anisa Samarxhiu November 5, 2014

Every 15 seconds, someone dies from a workplace-related injury and 160 workers are injured on the job each day. The costs of such injuries are estimated at $1.25 trillion, which is about 4% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product. A safer work environment, on the other hand, not only minimizes injury costs but also can increase productivity by 5%.

Chris Brogli of Rockwell Automation used that data from The Aberdeen Group in a presentation to an audience at the 2014 Pack Expo in Chicago. Brogli told the audience that manufacturers with the highest efficiency also had the lowest number of work-related injuries.

While both OEMs and end users focus on safety, they also have challengers when it comes to improving safety. The OEM is focused on driving throughput for the plant and providing flexible machines. The end user is focused on increasing the OEE of machines, reducing the time needed for repairs and changeovers, and productivity.

Brogli said a more collaborative effort that focuses on implementing safety at the design stage can help both OEMs and end users achieve a safer and more productive plant.

Among Brogli’s suggestions for end users were to:

  • Add well-defined machine speculations
  • Have well-defined requirements, procedures, process to ensure compliance
  • Use standardized products and solutions to drive consistency
  • Have well-defined design and collaboration process with equipment suppliers
  • Have well-defined factory acceptance performance requirements
  • Have well-defined site acceptance. Even combining separate safe machines can create new safety problems.

Brogli said good safety specifications are important and should be detailed. Safety review checklists should be long and comprehensive so manufacturers don’t worry about work-related injuries and the cost that comes with them.

Among Brogli’s safety suggestions for OEMs:

  • Have a well-defined machinery design process that includes customer collaboration.  
  • Have modular, scalable, and integrated approaches.
  • Consider flexibility in the design process.
  • Utilize machinery assessments early in the design phase to identify machine risks. This way the problems can be detected early and fixed before ever even being put on the plant floor.
  • Use contemporary solutions that minimize components, wiring time, and maximize efficiency.

Contemporary solutions include safety embedded in all equipment as well as reducing the actual machinery on the plant floor. By having safety embedded in the drives, I/O, servos, and PLC, the end user can have all of their information displayed on one HMI screen.

– Anisa Samarxhiu, digital project manager, CFE Media,