One of the most common phrases is “safety is everyone’s responsibility”. This certainly is true, but safety needs to start with machine guarding. Just like anything else, people need to be set up for success by providing them with the proper tools. People want to do the right thing, they want to be safe, they want others to be safe, but they don’t know what they don’t know.
Machines are an inanimate object…no brains, no feelings, no common sense, no voice to help keep workers from harm. By the time the machine has let you know there is a problem, it is too late. Machines will not hesitate to “bite” you, some more than others. So, you need to minimize some of these characteristics in humans as well. The cost of doing nothing has proven to be catastrophic over the years as shown in the OSHA statistics. The investment of proactively putting the proper machine guarding in place more than outweighs the costs associated with a reactive approach of doing nothing based on injuries or death. There are resources in the market, some better than others as explained in the article “Fundamentals of Machine Guarding”, to help you improve your machine guarding.
There are a lot of different types of machine guarding options, such as modular machine guarding, consumer products guarding, robotic safety guarding, palletizing safety systems, industrial sound enclosures, hazardous chemical containment enclosures, and power transmission guards. In addition, adding electronic safety devices brings the guarding to life by interacting with the machine controls. It is critical to make sure you choose the appropriate guarding that fits your process as well as choosing the right turnkey solutions contractor to ensure proper installation of the guarding. “I have been doing it that way for 20 years”, “the machine came that way”, “no one would stick their hands in there”, “no one should be back there”, are all objections from workers for not being accepting of the guarding. This is one of the reasons the solutions should not be cumbersome, does not create opportunities for employees to attempt a bypass or work around it, and it interacts with the machine properly.
While the focus is on machine guarding you must complete the process by creating systems, controlled processes, training programs, and routine audits for better success with your machine safety directives. People by nature do not take responsibility for their actions, so consequences should also be put in place in case these guidelines are not followed. Then from there safety truly is everyone’s responsibility. At this point, you can have some peace of mind that you have given your employees the tools to be safe. Do not think of safety as being an overhead expense, think of it as an investment in keeping your workers safe.
Authored and self-published by Shawn Mantel, Owner / Operator at PowerSafe Automation
Shawn Mantel is the owner and author of the @powersafeautomation blog posts, where he helps to educate and spark ideas with workers on how to improve workplace safety through turnkey safety guarding solutions.
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