Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Are You at Risk for a Machine-Related Incident?

Many workplaces wrongly believe that they do not have any issues with machine safety. These are the organizations that are surprised and ill-prepared when an incident occurs, or they are issued an improvement order from Workplace Safety and Health. Some workplaces know that they have high risks but believe that machine safety programs are too time-consuming and costly to manage.

      Here are a few questions that you can ask yourself to determine if your workplace is at risk for a machinery-related incident.

  1. Do you rely heavily on awareness controls and training to keep your workers safe around equipment?
  2. Do you believe that if you purchase a new machine it will come with all the required safeguards?
  3. Do have workers who work on equipment that do not understand energy control (lockout)?
  4. Do you have machines that do not have task-based risk assessments?
  5. If there was a problem with a guard, would an operator or supervisor remove it and continue working without proper consultation?

      If you answered YES to any of the above questions, you are at a much higher chance of experiencing a machine-related injury at your workplace. The good news is, machine safety programs do not have to be complicated or time-consuming. Here are a few simple things you can do to get started today.

  1. Have an inventory of the equipment in your workplace.
  2. Identify your highest risk machines based on severity and probability of injury.
  3. Determine proper safeguarding controls through the development of a task-based risk assessment.

If you would like some help or advice on any of these recommendations, contact us today at or visit

Monday, January 14, 2019

Risk Reduction Exercise

Here are some questions you can ask about risk, and here is what those answers can tell you.

1. What is the major hazard they will encounter in this task?

The first issue we encounter in risk assessments is that the operator may not even be aware of the hazards.  Being aware of the hazards is the first step in risk reduction because you can’t reduce risk from hazards when they are completely unknown.

2. What is the severity of injury if they come into contact with that hazard?

An operator may not even know the consequences of contacting the hazard with a body part.  They may think a bruise or abrasion when it could be a crush or amputation.  Not knowing the consequences causes operators to sometimes take unnecessary risks like removing a guard.

3. How easily do they think they can avoid that hazard?

Let’s find out if its just training and knowledge that keeps them from the hazard.  If they feel confident in this answer, ask them if a new or young worker with no knowledge of the first two questions could avoid that hazard.

This exercise will give you an idea of where you stand with risk.  You’ll know whether operators know the risks, what the consequences are, and what controls are in place.  If they can’t answer these questions, we need to get started on this process.

What can you do next?  Start with risk assessments.  Try a WESguard free trail

Monday, December 10, 2018

Safeguarding Trends from 2018

Here are the trends we saw in safeguarding for 2018.

Proactive versus Reactive:  We often tell people when we started this business all of our work was from improvement orders or incidents at facilities.  We are very proud to say that has swung to a more balanced number.  People are working on identifying hazards and risk before a near miss or worse an incident occurs.  Perhaps its people understanding that the cost of an incident is much more than the claim.

How can you be proactive?  Start with educating your workers on hazards and risks.

Improved Risk Assessments:  They are improving as more and more people get involved.  Having more people involved with risk assessments can often be viewed as a negative, as the time taken looks to be increaded.  But with a continued focus on doing good risk assessments and working the hierarchy of controls from the top, companies are seeing stronger and stronger solutions.

How can you improve your risk assessments? Make sure you look at all non-routine tasks for hazards and risks that don't happen everyday.

Strengthening of Machine Programs: With the Safe Work Certified program, people are realizing that having a strong program can be financially rewarding.  A structured program is easier to sustain and continuously improve.  With a baseline established that meets the regulatory requirements.

How can you strengthen your machine program?  Start with risk assessments for each major piece of equipment.

Looking forward to 2019!


Friday, November 09, 2018

Project Spotlight: Metal Shear

Last week we performed a machine safeguarding assessment on a hydraulic shear. A shear is a powered machine used to cut sheet metal. When activated, typically by a foot pedal, it clamps the material and a moving blade descends across a fixed blade to shear/cut the material. The main hazards on a shear are the pinch between the material clamps and amputation from the shearing blade.

The most common safeguarding control found on a shear is a fixed guard installed across the front opening of the machine. Most guards have wide openings or clear polycarbonate to allow the worker to see past and some even have lights installed behind them for increased visibility. While it is very common to see shears equipped with this type of guard, it is also very common to find that the openings in the guards do not meet the recommended safe distance from CSA. Improper guard design will allow workers hands to reach the pinch points of the clamps or the shearing point of the blade. To check your shear guard openings, use the table provided in CSA Z432-16: Safeguarding of Machinery or your “gotcha stick”.

These are not the only hazards found on shears and every machine is different. Ensure that a qualified, cross-functional team performs a task-based risk assessment on your shears to identify all hazards and choose appropriate safeguarding controls. For further help with machine assessments contact us today or visit


shear guard

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Company Spotlight: Jeld-Wen Windows

Jeld-Wen is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of windows and doors. They have a massive facility in Winnipeg which takes up a full city block. The Winnipeg facility is the only Jeld-Wen facility in the world that manufacturers all three product lines – windows, exterior doors and interior doors. Jeld-Wen has an impressive safety program and following a serious injury in 2013, they have been diligently working with us to improve their machine guarding. So, it was a no-brainer when they joined the WESguard app last year to help them more easily track and manage their machine safety initiatives. Since then they have improved their machine risk score by over 10% and are only a few tasks away from eliminating their high-risk machines; not a small feat for a facility with almost 400 pieces of equipment.

Most recently Jeld-Wen graciously offered to host our Mastering Machine Risk Assessment course on October 2. Students from workplaces across Manitoba were invited to their Winnipeg facility to learn the theory behind machine risk assessments and to participate in shop floor exercises. Topics covered included how risk assessments influence guarding decisions, the importance of stakeholder involvement and detailed instruction on the CSA/ISO risk assessment model and risk factors. The highlight of the course is the team exercise where students work together to develop a detailed risk assessment on a production machine. They observed the operation of a window frame welder and had the opportunity to talk to operators and maintenance personnel to ensure their risk assessment was detailed and accurate. Students were successful in identifying a multitude of activities and hazards, not just the most common operational tasks, and provided Jeld-Wen with some unique safety solutions based not only on their learnings but also their varied backgrounds and fresh perspectives.

We would like to give a huge thank you to Jeld-Wen for hosting Mastering Machine Risk Assessments. If you are interested in this or any of our other machine safety courses, contact us today.

jeldwen machine

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